Currently, elephants can be transferred from the wild and placed in "captive facilities" elsewhere in the world under exceptional circumstances - and subject to approval by a committee of Cites members.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) in Entebbe is pleased with a near-total ban on taking baby African elephants from the wild and selling them to zoos. The ban was approved at a meeting in Geneva.
"We have two elephants that were salvaged when their parents went missing in Queen Elizabeth National Park," said the UWEC executive director James Musinguzi. "This is the reason we are pleased with the idea of parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) who decided to tighten the rules after days of debate."
The details of the ban have it that, the European Union decided to back the ban although Zimbabwe and the USA voted against it. This triggered Zimbabwe and Botswana that have huge elephant populations than other African nations, to be permitted to export elephants to "appropriate and acceptable" destinations.
Under that rule, the country has captured and exported more than 100 baby elephants to Chinese zoos since 2012, Humane Society International says.
True to Musinguzi's delight the recent decision significantly strengthens the restrictions on the elephant trade. Currently, elephants can be transferred from the wild and placed in "captive facilities" elsewhere in the world under exceptional circumstances - and subject to approval by a committee of Cites members.
"The new ban does not mean that no elephant will ever be taken from the wild and put into a captive facility as it is with the two that were salvaged from death in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)at a tender age," explained Musinguzi. "Despite compromise language being introduced by the EU, we are relieved by its passing. It is a win for conservationist for these sociable animals that get traumatized when separated from the herd".
A tour of the UWEC animals was a revelation of the nine-year-old beast called Hamukungu. Orphaned at the age of two weeks, animal keeper Steven Busulwa says he is pleased seeing it swagger about and responding when called.
"She eats 100kg of vegetation and drinks 100 liters of water per day, "says Busulwa. "She is a testimony that elephants should be spared the ordeal of being separated from their families. I bond with it every day, inspect the fence as it destroys on a regular basis."
Hamukungu's diet comprises of pumpkins, horse pellets and his company is another baby elephant brought from QENP.
However, some Ugandans agree with the opposite of the ban arguing that there is a need for re-opening of the ivory trade, especially of existing stocks of ivory that is confiscated from poachers or leftover from already-dead animals.
"It is worth vast sums of money that could be used for conservation purpose by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)" said Robert Kiboli. "This would be better than unscrupulous dealers breaking into the strong room."
UWA spokesman Gessa Simplicious says today the population of elephants is more than 5,000 in Kidepo Valley National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.