On the 12th and 13th of February 2014, a high level summit on the illegal wildlife trade was held in London, hosted by the UK government. African heads of state, officials from over 50 countries and even the Prince of Wales, a long term supporter of wildlife conservation, were brought together to find ways of urgently tackling the illegal trade in ivory, rhino horn and other animal parts, which threatens the existence of several endangered species.
“Tens of thousands of elephants were killed last year; over a thousand rhinos lost their lives to poaching and trafficking; and tigers and many other species are under ever greater threat. But this is not just an environmental crisis. This is now a global criminal industry, ranked alongside drugs, arms and people trafficking.” Said the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Out of the summit, African leaders, with support from the UK Government, have put forward the “Elephant Protection Initiative” (EPI): an African-led initiative to immediately protect elephants and end the trade in ivory.
Stop Ivory, an organisation dedicated to delivering an immediate and long lasting intervention to bring an end to the poaching crisis, has announced a commitment of $2 million to launch this Initiative. NRT’s Director of Conservation, Ian Craig, is on the board of trustees for Stop Ivory. Below is a few excerpts from the Elephant Protection Initiative:
- The Elephant Crisis: the illegal killing of elephants and trade in their ivory is out of control across much of Africa. It threatens the survival not only of small exposed elephant populations, but also those which have previously been thought secure thereby harming the economic development of our countries and undermining the ecological integrity of our ecosystems.
- The poaching and illegal trade is driven by international criminal networks and cartels, which fuels corruption, undermines the rule of law and security, and, evidence suggests, provides funding to those associated with organised crime and terrorist activities.
- Any supply of ivory, including that used within legal domestic markets, is inherently likely to increase the risk to elephant populations, those charged with their protection, and remote, vulnerable communities.
- The existence and accrual of ivory stockpiles: these are costly to secure and maintain, diverts limited conservation resources, diverts scarce resources away from front line elephant conservation, protection and wildlife law enforcement; and may enter the illegal supply chain and drive speculation.
Range States need urgent and sustained financial and technical support: for anti-poaching work in the field, to strengthen and enforce national laws protecting elephants and preventing trafficking; to deliver regional and international intelligence-sharing and law-enforcement efforts; to safeguard habitats; and to support communities which live alongside elephants, particularly with regard to the development of sustainable livelihoods and the reduction of human-elephant conflict.
The Elephant Protection Initiative
A global initiative, in which range states, partner states, NGOs, IGO’s, private citizens and the private sector work in partnership to:
- Provide both immediate and longer-term funding to address the Elephant Crisis
- Close domestic ivory markets in those participating states still operating a domestic market
- Observe a moratorium on any consideration of future international trade for a minimum of 10 years
To read the full brief, as well as Stop Ivory’s London statement, click here.