News / Africa

African, Asian Nations Agree on 'Urgent' Steps to Save Elephants

An African savanna elephant. (Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)
An African savanna elephant. (Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)
An international gathering in Botswana has come to agreement on the urgent steps to be taken to combat the illegal trade in ivory and protect elephant populations in Africa.
 
The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced the measures on Tuesday, the second day of the African Elephant Summit in Botswana's capital, Gabarone.


The agreement calls for governments to classify ivory trafficking as a "serious crime" and impose "maximum" sentences for wildlife offenses. It also urges nations to cooperate in legal matters such as extradition and asset seizure and forfeiture.
 
Botswanan President and summit host Ian Khama welcomed the steps.
 
"Strong momentum from all over the world is developing to turn this tide and many nations and individuals are calling for solutions that are implementable and will work. It is now time for Africa and Asia to join forces to protect this universally valued species. I wholeheartedly invite your active participation and equally anticipate your unprecedented commitment to action," said Khama.  
 
The gathering included government agencies and conservation groups from African nations that host elephant populations and Asian nations where ivory has long been in demand.
 
International Union for Conservation of Nature chief Julia Marton-Lefevre said the broad range of participants is a good sign.
 
"The fact that this was a meeting involving the entire value chain of the elephant situation, the range countries, the transition countries and the consumer countries was unique and very important. And I think this sort of model will actually be followed in other parts of the world for other species and of course the Asian elephant also," said Marton-Lefevre.
 
Organizers said Africa could stand to lose as much as 20% of its elephant population in 10 years if illegal poaching continues at the current rate.
 
They said poaching has increased in recent years due to poverty and weak governance in Africa, combined with rising demand in ivory-consuming nations.
 
An estimated 500,000 elephants remain in the continent. Botswana's wildlife and tourism minister Tshekedi Khama described them as a national asset.
 
"I think it is very important… that we take ownership, because having elephants and wildlife is sustainable and it also gives livelihood to communities. And if we deplete those resources, we also deplete the livelihood through tourism through wildlife and various other ways to the communities, remembering that we don't always start on the same level as everybody else. So the decisions we make today are the decisions not just for us at our level, but decisions for people who live in our countries,” said the minister.
 
Elephant tusks are desirable in some Asian nations where people use them as ornaments and for traditional medicine.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid