Global efforts against ivory traffickers still fall short

Posted September 30, 2016

Require registration and marking of cut ivory pieces over 1 kg and 20 cm in height or larger, making it impossible to track the trade chain of ivory. "Consequently, our elephant population is once again in peril", he explained.

These proposals could change the way that ivory will be traded in the future.

The finding comes amid arguments among African nations over the best way to protect elephants.

"It is clear from these recent reports that we are in the midst of an Africa-wide poaching crisis that is decimating its elephants", says Keith Lindsay, an ecologist with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

There are a number of regions where systematic surveys could not be taken and so it is hard to say what is happening to elephants in such places. Poaching has been the most damaging in Eastern Africa, in places including Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic, where the elephant population has decreased almost 50 percent.

The Savannah populations of Chad have taken heavy losses and those in the central African Republic have nearly completely disappeared.

"Lack of political will is a key factor in the ongoing poaching of Central Africa's forest elephants". The study is based on more than 275 new or updated estimates for individual elephant populations, including more than 180 systematic surveys.

"We are particularly concerned about major infrastructure projects that are cutting up the elephant ranges, this is a particular problem for road development in central and east Africa", said Dr Chris Thouless, one of the report's authors.

Speaking during his weekly briefing at State House, Nairobi, State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said elephants and rhinos, which are a great tourist attraction, are faced extinction due to rampant poaching and illegal ivory trade.

They've disappeared entirely from Angola, although there have been population increases in Namibia, South Africa and Uganda.

"This new number should sound a deafening alarm", said Ginette Hemley, head of the WWF delegation at the CITES conference.

"These countries have proved that it is possible to expand elephant populations by keeping the poachers and traffickers at bay through stronger laws, tougher enforcement and cooperation with communities".

But poachers are also training their guns on southern Africa with big declines noted in Mozambique, it said.

Overall there are estimated to be around 415,000 elephants in Africa, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 in areas that have not been surveyed systematically. "There is no time to lose".

The world's biggest conference on the global wildlife trade got underway Saturday in Johannesburg, but African countries lashed out at Western charities for "dictating" how they should protect their elephants.