Botswana to hosts elephant summit

2015-03-10 15:39

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Gaborone - Botswana will this month host two international meetings on elephant poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in Africa, Environment and Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama said on Tuesday.

Khama said the first meeting, the African Elephant Summit, would review progress in implementing 14 urgent measures adopted at an earlier meeting in Botswana in December 2013.

The summit, in the tourist town of Kasane on 23 March, was expected to attract representatives and heads of state from over 30 countries.

Measures to be proposed included strengthening law enforcement and wildlife protection agencies, and making wildlife trafficking a serious crime.

Political will and education

"The heads of state will sign the action plan and see how far we have come since our last meeting," Khama said.

"As Botswana, we are doing a lot of anti-poaching. However, this exercise is not about the amount of money spent, it's also about the political will and education."

Countries present at the last meeting, and which signed a list of 14 urgent measures, included Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The meeting, to be attended by NGOs, conservation agencies, and the international press, would be briefed by African elephant specialist groups on the status of the African elephant, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), and the elephant trade information system.

"Countries will also develop an action plan to address key emerging areas of concern."

Future generations

Khama said over the years the number of elephants on the continent had been declining. The first African elephant summit, in 2013, was prompted by the estimated 100 000 elephants that had been poached in the three years prior to the conference.

It was estimated that Africa had over 500 000 elephants. Botswana alone had over 200 000, making it the biggest home to elephants in Southern Africa.

"We need to protect our elephants for future generations," said Khama.

Another key wildlife conference would take place on 25 March, following a similar one in London in February last year. Topics of discussion would include the illegal wildlife trade, poaching and trafficking.

Delegates, including some heads of state of African countries, would consider ways to eliminate demand for illegal wildlife products, destroy seized wildlife products, and enforce Cites provisions.

Read more on:    botswana  |  poaching  |  southern africa  |  animals
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