By Clarissa Hughes
In the wake of the Elephant Summit held in Botswana in early December where urgent measures to halt the rampant illegal ivory trade were adopted one is left asking if it is enough?
Against a backdrop of ever increasing levels of poaching across Africa the Summit was called to tackle the onslaught that threatens this iconic species. Statistics released at the summit indicate that 22 000 elephants were poached in 2012, an improvement on the estimated figure of 25 000 elephants poached in 2011, however ivory seizures in 2013 signal that elephant deaths in 2013 may reach 40 000.
“We have gathered to secure demonstrable commitment to undertake those measures that have been deemed urgent across range, transit and consumer countries,” said H.E Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, at the official opening of the Summit.
Attended by high-level officials from African elephant range states, including Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia, ivory transit states of Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand the meeting has been hailed a success. However, it is reported that only six of the countries represented signed the agreement at the Summit, the other representatives requiring higher approval.
Of the fourteen urgent measures adopted by the meeting the most important one involves classifying wildlife trafficking as a ‘serious crime’ – a move that will unlock international law enforcement co-operation provided for under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. This co-operation includes mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crime.
Other measures agreed to 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. More....