A commitment has been made by representatives of over 40 nations and 11 intergovernmental organizations to end the illegal trade in wildlife following a two day conference in London, UK. The conference highlighted the threat wildlife crime poses to the economy and cultural heritage of nations, and to many populations of elephants, rhinos, and big cats, as well as other species.
The participating states and intergovernmental organizations have agreed actions that will eradicate demand for illegal wildlife products, strengthen and enforce laws related to wildlife trade, and support the development of sustainable livelihoods that provide an alternative option to poaching.
The Governments of Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania have established additional measures to address the specific threat of poaching to elephant populations within their countries. Known as the Elephant Protection Initiative, a global partnership of range states, partner states, NGOs, IGO’s, private citizens and the private sector will work together to achieve the following objectives:
I. Provide both immediate and longer-term funding to address the Elephant Crisis through full and timely implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan (AEAP), by accessing public and private sector support through the creation of a long-term fund that provides guaranteed financial support for all participating range States for the implementation of the AEAP on the basis of threat to Elephant populations and need, and further provides incremental payments linked to overall elephant numbers and growth in elephant populations. This fund would also provide funds for worldwide citizen education on the issue; for addressing the various development needs of local communities, including poverty, for national conservation activities, and for regional cooperation;
II. Close domestic ivory markets in those participating states still operating a domestic market;
III. Observe a moratorium on any consideration of future international trade for a minimum of 10 years and thereafter until African elephant populations are no longer threatened; and agree to put all stockpiles beyond economic use.
These commitments are in response to growing demand for wildlife products that has led to an increase in poaching and violence against those who protect wildlife. The illegal trade is linked to organized crime and corruption, and crosses international borders presenting a threat to national and international security. International cooperation is essential if wildlife crime is to be stopped and this declaration comes at a critical time in the fight to save threatened species.