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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Poaching behind worst African elephant losses in 25 years: report  | Coastweek

SAMBURU(Xinhua) -- Ranger Scout David from 'Save the Elephants' reporting his observation of elephants at Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Africa’s overall elephant population has seen the worst declines in 25 years, mainly due to poaching over the past 10 years, according to the African Elephant Status Report launched by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) at the ongoing 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Spices of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg. The real decline in the past 10 years from estimates is considered to be closer to 111,000. The continental total is now thought to be about 415,000 elephants, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 elephants in areas not systematically surveyed. XINHUA PHOTOS - SUN RUIBO

Poaching behind worst African elephant losses in 25 years: report
JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Africa’s overall elephant population has seen the worst declines in 25 years, mainly due to poaching over the past 10 years, according to a report released here.

The African Elephant Status Report was launched by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) at the ongoing 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Spices of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Based on population estimates from a wide range of sources, including aerial surveys and elephant dung counts, the estimates for 2015 were 93,000 lower than in 2006.

However, including 18,000 from previously uncounted populations, the real decline from estimates is considered to be closer to 111,000.

The continental total is now thought to be about 415,000 elephants, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 elephants in areas not systematically surveyed.

The surge in poaching for ivory that began approximately a decade ago, the worst that Africa has experienced since the 1970s and 1980s, has been the main driver of the decline, while habitat loss poses an increasingly serious, long-term threat to the species, according to the report.

"These new numbers reveal the truly alarming plight of the majestic elephant, one of the world’s most intelligent animals and the largest terrestrial mammal alive today," said IUCN Director General Inger Andersen.

"It is shocking but not surprising that poaching has taken such a dramatic toll on this iconic species."

This report provides further scientific evidence of the need to scale up efforts to combat poaching, he said.

"Nevertheless, these efforts must not detract from addressing other major and increasingly devastating threats such as habitat loss," Andersen said.

With over 70 percent of the estimated African elephants, Southern Africa has by far the largest number of the species, approximately 293,000 elephants in systematically surveyed areas.

Eastern Africa holds about 86,000 (20 percent) estimated elephants, while Central Africa has about 24,000 estimated elephants (six percent). West Africa continues to hold the smallest regional population with approximately 11,000 (under three percent).

Eastern Africa, the region most affected by poaching, has experienced an almost 50 percent elephant population reduction, largely attributed to an over 60 percent decline in Tanzania’s elephant population.

Although some sites have recorded declines, elephant numbers have been stable or increasing since 2006 in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, and range expansion has been reported in Kenya.

Central Africa’s forest elephant population has been substantially affected by poaching for ivory since the 1990s.

The Democratic Republic of Congo used to hold one of the most significant forest elephant populations in Africa, which has now been reduced to tiny remnants of its former size.

The savanna populations of Chad have taken heavy losses and those in the Central African Republic have almost completely disappeared.

The report is an authoritative source of knowledge about the numbers and distribution of African elephant populations across their 37 range states in sub-Saharan Africa.

It presents more than 275 new or updated estimates for individual elephant populations across Africa, with over 180 of these arising from systematic surveys.

The report summarizes for the first time in almost a decade elephant numbers at the continental, regional and national levels, and examines changes in population estimates at the site level.
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UPDATE;

African Union to implement wildlife crime fighting strategy: official

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) Commission is currently identifying African experts who will drive the implementation of the African Strategy on Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in the continent, an AU official said on Tuesday.

The African Strategy is a framework designed by the African countries to tackle the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, Leah Naess Wanambwa, a senior policy officer in the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture at the AU Commission, told Xinhua.

She was attending the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Spices of Wild Fauna and Flora, taking place in Johannesburg.

The African strategy was approved by the African Heads of States during the AU Summit in South Africa in 2015.

"The Strategy is formulated to guide a common, coordinated response by countries in Africa to combat the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora," she said.

"It is meant to prevent, reduce and eventually eliminate the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora in Africa through the implementation of an African wide strategic framework," she said.

When to start the implementation of the strategy will depend on how they will set up the first expert group, Wanambwa said.

Wanambwa said the AU Commission is in the process of setting up a coordination mechanism for the implementation of the African Strategy.

"We hope to have the expert group formed soon after COP17," the official said.
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EARLIER REPORT;

Kenya seeks total ban on ivory trade at CITES meeting

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Sunday that it will lobby for a total ban on ivory trade during the 17th meeting of conference of parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which kicked off in South Africa on Saturday.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said international efforts are needed to deal with illegal trade in ivory products which he said drives supply and demand.

"The trade is simple. Demand for illegal products drives supply.

Deal with the trade, requires aggressive law enforcement, effective elephant ivory and rhino horn movement control and influential market dis-incentivisation," he told journalists in Nairobi.

"So, we will aggressively seek a total ban on ivory trade at this Johannesburg CITES meeting," said Esipisu during his weekly briefings.

He said the East African nation will lobby the international community to back its proposals on putting an end to trade in trophies during the high level summit.

He said Nairobi remains committed to playing its rightful role in ensuring that international trade in endangered species does not threaten survival of wildlife species like elephants.

Kenya is a member of the African elephant coalition that has lobbied the international community to support a ban on ivory trade ahead of CITES meeting in Johannesburg.

The coalition will submit a set of proposals at the CITES meeting calling on governments and multilateral agencies to strengthen protection of elephants through outlawing trade in trophies.

             

 

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