African and Asian states agree to tackle illegal ivory trade
A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger stands guard over an ivory haul seized overnight as it transited through Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi on August 23, 2013
States that are home to the animals and destination countries for ivory agreed to "urgent measures to halt the illegal trade and secure elephant populations across Africa," the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Botswanan government said in a statement.
Six countries signed the pact but all 30 states attending the summit agreed on the measures and committed to inking the deal.
"All the 30 countries present here agreed on the 14 urgent measures," Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, told AFP.
"We have consensus, it's good news."
The countries committed to putting a total of 14 measures in place by the end of next year amid warnings that Africa could lose 20 percent of its elephant population within a decade.
"The summit is the first-ever meeting focusing on the dynamics of the entire ivory value chain," said the joint statement by the IUCN and Botswana's ministry of environment, wildlife and tourism.
"The measures were agreed on by key African elephant range states including Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia, ivory transit states Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand."
Among the measures are that trafficking should be classified as a "serious crime", paving the way for international cooperation such as mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, and extradition.
Cooperation will also be strengthened among law enforcement agencies in affected countries and "national interagency mechanisms" formed to "allow immediate action" on anyone involved in poaching or the contraband ivory trade.
According to a report by CITES, TRAFFIC and IUCN, an estimated 22,000 elephants were illegally killed across the continent last year, as poaching reached "unacceptably elevated levels."
"We are very pleased with the result of the summit, especially as it involves some of the most important countries along the illegal ivory value chain,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN director general.
Africa's elephant population is estimated at 500,000 animals and they are listed as vulnerable.
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