By Jeff Ramsay
While one may have missed it from local headlines it has been a week full of good news by, for and about our nation [unrelated, deleted material.\....
But arguably the biggest news of all during the week that was, was the African Elephant Summit in Gaborone, which was co-sponsored by Government and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
On Wednesday it was announced that the Summit had achieved a breakthrough by forging consensus on fourteen “urgent measures” to combat poaching and the illicit trade in ivory across its entire supply chain.
Underlying the interventions was international agreement that illegal ivory trafficking at all stages would henceforth be classified as a “serious crime” and, in light of the involvement of terrorists as well as major transnational crime syndicates, a global threat. The 30 states represented thus affirmed their willingness to apply a zero-tolerance approach predicated on securing maximum sentences for those convicted of wildlife crimes.
The Gaborone Summit’s positive outcome was made possible by the fact that the gathering had, practically for the first time, brought together countries from across the so-called “elephant range,” to formulate specific measures cascading from a common strategy that is inclusive of poaching target states such as Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia, identified transport states such as Vietnam, Philippines, and Malaysia, as well as major Asian ivory consumers such as China and Thailand, with additional Government and non-government stakeholders from Europe, the Americas and Africa also participating.
To many observers, the success of the Summit was underpinned by China’s firm commitment to legally crackdown on the importation of ivory. Recent estimates indicate that the country has been the ultimate destination of up to 70% of the growing worldwide traffic in African ivory.
At the Summit it was further announced that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has donated USD 8 million to the Kasane based NGO Elephants without Borders, to enable the organisation to conduct a comprehensive census of Africa’s elephant population.
In addition the European Commission pledged USD 16.65 million to buttress Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regional enforcement. This was a top up of the USD 80 million that was collectively pledged by international donors for the campaign in September 2013 at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
As the Summit’s convener and host as well as co-sponsor with ICUN, the outcomes have been a clear cut diplomatic achievement for the Khama administration, more than meeting the President’s own call for Africans and Asians in particular to unite in forging a “demonstrable commitment to undertake those measures that have been deemed urgent across range, transit and consumer countries.” More....