By Thamani Shabani /Press Release
Botswana has signed for 14 urgent agreements/measures that seek to halt the illegal trade of elephant populations across Africa.
Signing for Botswana was the minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama during the first ever African Elephant Summit convened by the Botswana government and the International Union for Conservation Nature held in Gaborone starting on December 2 to December 4. The measures were agreed on by 18 key African Elephant range states and many other organisations and individuals around the world who have participated by providing detailed advice and commitments.
One of the 14 agreements the delegates committed to involve classifying wildlife trafficking as a “serious crime”. This will unlock international law enforcement cooperation provided under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised crime, including mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crime.
Other measures agreed include engaging communities living with elephants in their conservation, strengthening national laws to secure maximum wildlife crime sentences, mobilising financial and technical resources to combat wildlife crime and reducing demand for illegal ivory.
Speaking at a press conference after the signing ceremony, minister Khama said the expectation is that other delegates that did not sign on behalf of their respective states will do so in due course because the cut off point for other countries to have signed is the end of December this year.
He explained that the measures are intended to close some lope holes in trafficking of wildlife particularly elephants which are increasingly becoming the focus of this crime. Minister Khama said African states should take the initiative to protect their own wildlife because there is no other continent that can do such on their behalf. He explained that the decision taken by key states will go a long way in benefiting the livelihood of the future generations of the continent.
Director General for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Ms Julia Marton-Lefevre said the government of Botswana should be proud to be a member of her organisation and that she was pleased with the result of the summit especially that it involves some of the most important countries along the illegal ivory value chain.
She hoped that these outcomes will go beyond the summit’s focus on Africa elephants and boost broader efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade in other species which have been threatened by it, such as rhinos and pangolins. More....