Countries step up fight against illegal ivory trade
A group of countries with a tradition in obtaining and importing illegally procured elephant ivory in Africa committed this week at the African Elephant Summit in Botswana to stiffer measures to halt this trade.
The measures were agreed on by key African Elephant range states including Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia; ivory transit states like Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia; and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand.
One of the 14 measures the delegates committed to involves classifying as a “serious crime" wildlife trafficking.
“This will unlock international law enforcement cooperation provided under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, including mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crime,” said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in a statement.
Other measures agreed upon include engaging communities living with elephants in their conservation, strengthening national laws to secure maximum wildlife crime sentences, mobilizing financial and technical resources to combat wildlife crime, and reducing demand for illegal ivory.
2011 saw the highest levels of poaching and illegal ivory trade in at least 16 years and “2012 shows no signs of abating,” IUCN said. “According to preliminary data, even higher levels of illicit trade may be reached in 2013.”
Eighteen large-scale seizures involving more than 40 tons have been recorded so far this year, which represents the greatest quantity of ivory seized over the last 25 years, IUCN said. “Poverty and corruption, as well as increasing demand from Asia are the principle drivers of poaching and the illegal ivory trade,” it said.
The African Elephant Summit was organized with financial support from the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the German government, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
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