By Christine Dell'Amore
Amid an unprecedented spike in African elephant poaching, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last week passed two motions it hopes will bolster protection for elephants and the park rangers who look after them.
The motions were approved without debate at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea. (Related: "In War to Save Elephants, Rangers Appeal for Aid.")
The highest recorded rate of elephant poaching in a decade occurred in 2011, with tens of thousands of the animals slaughtered, their ivory smuggled out of East African seaports en route to East Asia. A 1989 CITES treaty banned international trade in elephant ivory.
One motion calls on all countries with African elephants to "prioritize the protection and conservation of elephant populations" and to ensure adequate legislation, penalties, and incentive programs for local people living among elephants.
Mary Rice, head of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, said by email that she has concerns about the elephant-protection motion, which "does not call for curbing the ongoing international illegal trade in ivory through coordination with key authorities such as INTERPOL."
"This is crucial for tackling illegal wildlife trade, which is serious transnational organized crime."
In the second motion, Africa's rangers asked the IUCN leadership "to encourage member states, governments, civil society, and local and international NGOs and foundations to provide support for the initiative of improved wildlife-resource protection." More....