By Natalie Simon
At the beginning of the last century there were 10 million African elephants roaming the continent, now, according to Conservation Action Trust (CAT), there may be only 400 000 of the animals left. And the number of elephants killed in the last decade has more than doubled, CAT estimates that an elephant is killed every 15 minutes.
To address the growing problem of elephant poaching and the trade of illegal ivory Botswana is hosting an emergency summit in its capital city Gabarone, from the beginning of December.
The summit will aim to address the following topics: penalties for ivory trading, law enforcement, population monitoring and public awareness.
According to the organisation in order to combat poaching, punishments must be seen to outweigh the potential financial rewards of the illegal ivory trade. Radical difference in penalties and legislation surrounding poaching would need to be addressed to strengthen the battle against poachers.
CAT also recommended national task forces be formed and the number of wildlife and law enforcement officers working against poaching be increased:
“Ivory poachers are now often part of organised, armed networks, better equip and connected than the rangers who they evade,” said the organization in a statement.
“More worryingly, the money from the poaching is increasingly often going towards armed rebellions and terrorism. The recent attack on the Nairobi mall by terrorist group al-Shabaab was partly funded by the illegal ivory trade.”
Eight countries in particular have been identified as being central to recent surges in elephant poaching, these include source countries, transit countries and destination countries. All critical to the trade of illegal ivory.
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been identified as the source countries, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines the transit countries and the destination countries are China and Thailand.