BOTSWANA – Africa could lose 20 percent of its elephant population within a decade, conservation groups warned last month as governments met in Botswana to discuss measures to curb poaching.
An estimated 22,000 elephants were illegally killed across the continent in 2012, as poaching reached “unacceptably elevated levels,” according to a report by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
“If poaching rates are sustained at current levels, Africa is likely to lose a fifth of its elephants in the next 10 years,” the group said.
The study was released as experts and ministers met in Gaborone to look at ways to stamp out the slaughter, fueled by a growing demand for ivory in Asia.
The meeting adopted 13 “urgent” steps to stem the tide of illegal elephant killings.
These included classification of trafficking in ivory as a serious crime and securing stiff sentences for offenders.
Prevention would be tackled through better arming of national protection agencies and discouraging demand in destination countries.
The meeting also recommended the adequate securing of government and privately held ivory stockpiles so they do not make their way into the wrong hands.
“We continue to face a critical situation,” CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said.