By John Ingham
The red listed animals are being slaughtered in a near record epidemic of poaching as organised gangs race to supply soaring demand for ivory, particularly in China.
In the past two years an estimated 47,000 of Africa's 500,000 elephants have been slaughtered, according to a study by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
There are fears that this could rapidly lead to local extinctions particularly in central Africa and to at least one in five of Africa's elephants being lost in the next decade.
But yesterday a deal was struck in Botswana between elephant range states plus countries through which tusks is shipped and the nations which are the main consumers of ivory.
The agreement was reached at the African Elephant Summit convened by the government of Botswana and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Among those backing the measures were elephant range states such as Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia, states through which ivory is smuggled such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, and the main ivory markets,including China and Thailand.
Botswana's President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, said: “Our window of opportunity to tackle the growing illegal ivory trade is closing and if we do not stem the tide, future generations will condemn our unwillingness to act.
“Now is the time for Africa and Asia to join forces to protect this universally valued and much needed species.”
Among the 14 measures agreed is a pledge to classify wildlife trafficking as a “serious crime”. More....