German Government Leads EU with Commitment to Enhancing Elephant Protection
Yesterday the German Bundestag voted by a large majority in favor of a cross-party resolution for improving the protection of elephants. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) has long demanded such a resolution due to the escalation of poaching in some African countries.
Elephants are severely threatened today with the last 24 months having been among the most deadly ever for elephants.
“In 2011, in total, authorities seized close to 24,3 tonnes (27 tons) of illegal ivory – the biggest amount in 23 years - and, in the first quarter of 2012, poachers in Cameroon slaughtered an estimated 650 elephants for their ivory,” said Sonja Van Tichelen IFAW EU Director.
The result of this vote is a binding Bundestag resolution that includes a commitment the German government will support African countries with elephant populations in their fight against poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. The government will also support projects that promote better protection of elephant habitats.
The Resolution comes as the start of the annual poaching season run by professional poachers in Central Africa. Taking advantage of dry season conditions, poachers from countries such as Sudan target poorly secured elephant populations across the region. The ivory is smuggled out of West and Central Africa for markets in Asia and Europe, and the money it raises funds regional conflicts.
Van Tichelen added, “Not only are we risking the loss of this most precious species from vast swathes of the African continent, but we are increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world.”
“The measures planned by the Bundestag are an urgently needed and positive step in the fight against the rampant poaching,” says Robert Kless of IFAW Germany. “By so doing, Germany is playing a pioneering role in elephant protection in the European Union.”
The European Development Fund is currently in the process of being renewed. With this resolution, Germany as the biggest contributor to the fund, sends an important signal that Germany and other European governments must use these funds to intensify their efforts in this war against the poachers.
“Germany’s parliament has spoken, now we need the German Government to lead Europe in taking action,” said Kless.
Further important elements of the resolution commit Germany to participate in international measures, for example, joint operations with Europol and Interpol, and improvements to the enforcement of regulations, especially in destination and transit countries. It also sends an important signal to the EU, particularly in connection with the conference March 2013 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), where crucial decisions concerning elephants are planned.