Hope for the future of elephants grew a little rosier today, when ministerial delegates to the IUCN African Elephant Summit in Botswana agreed to take urgent action to halt poaching and ivory trafficking.
Importantly, delegates committed to classifying wildlife trafficking as a “serious crime”, thus unlocking international law enforcement cooperation provided under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crime.
The move comes as the EU has promised €12.3 million to be spent on MIKES (Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species). It will be implemented by the CITES secretariat, cover 31 African elephant range States as well as selected protected area sites in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.
“The EU money to fight wildlife trafficking is a good start,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU Regional Director (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org). “But the scale of this problem means we need a full EU Action Plan with a funded trust fund, like we have for drugs and terrorism.”
Jason Bell, Director of IFAW’s Elephant Programme commented from Botswana, “Let’s hope these urgent measures are an active commitment, not a paper commitment, to act against the entire trade chain - range, transit and consumer nations. Finally, it seems, world leaders are getting to grips with the scale of the elephant crisis, hopefully to take positive action before time runs out.”
Eight countries have been identified as particularly problematic with regards to elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade - African elephant source States Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania; transit States Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines; and consumer States Thailand and China.
“So far this year, reports indicate that at least 18 tons of ivory have been seized in 2013, with Kenya authorities confiscating at least 10 tons at Mombasa Port alone,” said Bell. More....