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Urgent deal reached for African Elephants

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Key states along the illegal ivory value chain have committed to urgent measures to haltthe illegal trade and secure elephant populations across Africa. The agreement wasreached at the African Elephant Summit convened by the government of Botswana andIUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).The Summit is the first-ever meeting focusing on the dynamics of the entire ivory valuechain. The measures were agreed on by key African Elephant range states includingGabon, Kenya, Uganda,Niger and Zambia, ivory transit states Viet Nam, Philippines andMalaysia and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand."Our window of opportunity to tackle the growing illegal ivory trade is closing and if we donot stem the tide, future generations will condemn our unwillingness to act," says H.E.Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana."Now is the time for Africa and Asia to join forces to protect this universally valued andmuch needed species."One of the 14 measures the delegates committed to involves classifying wildlife traffickingas a "serious crime". This will unlock international law enforcement cooperation providedunder the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, includingmutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to holdcriminals accountable for wildlife crime.Other measures agreed include engaging communities living with elephants in theirconservation, strengthening national laws to secure maximum wildlife crime sentences,mobilizing financial and technical resources to combat wildlife crime and reducing demandfor illegal ivory."We are very pleased with the result of the Summit, especially as it involves some of themost important countries along the illegal ivory value chain," says IUCN Director GeneralJulia Marton-Lefèvre. "We hope that these outcomes will go beyond the Summit's focus onAfrican Elephants and boost broader efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade in other specieswhich have been threatened by it, such as rhinos and pangolins."2011 saw the highest levels of poaching and illegal ivory trade in at least 16 years and2012 shows no signs of abating. According to preliminary data, even higher levels of illicittrade may be reached in 2013. Eighteen large scale seizures involving over 40 tonneshave been recorded so far this year, which represents the greatest quantity of ivory seizedover the last 25 years. Poverty and corruption, as well as increasing demand from Asia arethe principle drivers of poaching and the illegal ivory trade.The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana), the world's largest terrestrial mammal, iscurrently listed as Vulnerable on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, with apopulation estimate of around 500,000 animals.The African Elephant Summit was organized with the financial support of the UKDepartment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the German Government, the USAgency for International Development, the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
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