French President François Hollande called on the “conscience of consumer countries” to put an end to the rampant poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa, during a speech to African presidents on Thursday.
“These are countries for which we have great respect. We want to … alert them of the consequences of this consumption, which should no longer exist,” he said at the beginning of a roundtable dedicated to wildlife criminality, where the African leaders discussed solutions to save Africa’s wildlife. The roundtable was held the day before the beginning of the Africa-France Heads of State Summit where leaders will discuss peace and security on the continent.
“WWF congratulates the French government for its stand against wildlife criminality,” according to Bas Huijbregts, head of WWF’s campaign against wildlife criminality in Central Africa.
“The measures announced by Hollande today are those needed to save Africa’s elephants and rhinos from extinction.”
“Particularly commendable was his call on ending consumption, increasing fines for traffickers in France tenfold, the proposed cooperation with African customs organizations, the destruction of its seized ivory stock, and the harmonization of legal deterrents,” Huijbregts explained.
Rising demand for elephant ivory and rhino horns – especially in East Asia – has led to an epidemic of poaching across the whole African continent.
According to data at the beginning of the Elephant Summit in Gabarone, Botswana, on Monday, 22,000 elephants were killed in Africa in 2012, out of a remaining population of around 500,000. Major ivory seizures in 2013 are, now at 41 tons, already a record high since measures began.
Rhino populations are even more at risk. Over 800 rhinoceroses where killed so far this year in South Africa alone, out of a remaining population of 25,000 throughout the continent.
“Our generation could be the one which witnesses the extinction of Africa’s most emblematic animals: rhinos, elephants, hippos and great apes,” Hollande said. More....