Spotlight Africa: Urgent measures for elephants called for at Botswana Summit
IFAW was fortunate to be invited to attend the final day's proceedings of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Emergency Elephant Summit in, Gaborone, Botswana 2-4 December.
The Summit brought officials from elephant range, ivory transit and end-user states, as well as from the international donor community together to discuss urgent measures needed to redress the current elephant poaching crisis.
In his opening address, his Excellency, the President of Botswana, Ian Khama, was bold and clear in his message to the world; “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.”
Year on year, elephant poaching is increasing to furnish growing demand in the East, notably in China. It is estimated that in 2012 anywhere between 20,000 and 40,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.
This year looks to be worse.
If this trend continues, it is predicted that 20% of Africa's elephants will be gone in the next 10 years, a conservative estimate, but a seriously significant and disturbing one.
The IUCN Summit adopted a Resolution calling for urgent global action and agreed to various measures to turn the tide for elephants. One of the 14 measures the delegates committed to involves classifying wildlife trafficking as a “serious crime”.
This designation will unlock 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.
Other measures agreed include engaging communities living with elephants in their conservation, strengthening national laws to secure maximum wildlife crime sentences, mobilizing financial and technical resources to combat wildlife crime and reducing demand for illegal ivory.
IFAW commends the international community for taking this issue seriously and for the newfound collegial approach to addressing the crisis. The bottom line is that we have to work together to win this fight. However it is no longer just about a spirit of cooperation - it is about a systemic approach if we want to have impact - we cannot look at poaching, illicit trade or demand in a vacuum.