Poaching: Africa's elephant population tumbles

Proposals on the table at the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) summit in Johannesburg call for the legal trade of "harvested" rhino horn and also for some stockpiled ivory to be put on the market, a move that would only push up demand, but William sent an "unambiguous message" to world leaders. It also asked the member nations to agree that "appropriate and acceptable" should mean countries that are "suitably equipped to house and care for" live elephants and that the sales clearly benefit in situ conservation.

In force since 1975, CITES provides protection to more than 35,000 plant and animal species.

Namibia and Zimbabwewant to be allowed to sell their ivory stockpiles accrued from natural deaths to fund community elephant conservation initiatives.

Value of illegal wildlife trade a year. White rhinos have been exported to China and elsewhere.

Rhino poaching is reported to have declined in South Africa's largest park, although there are questions as to whether it may have been displaced.

Oddly enough, the African elephant population decline has occurred mostly in Northern Africa.

Vietnam is expected to come under hard scrutiny at the conference.

And at an annual convention for trade in endangered species, eyes are on elephants and rhinos.

"It is shocking but not surprising that poaching has taken such a dramatic toll on this iconic species", Inger Andersen, director general for IUCN, told 10 News.

"A continued split-listing of the African elephant is akin to a declaration by Cites to open the ivory trade for business". The ban on ivory trade was established on 1989 after CITES debate, as its primary sponsor was Zimbabwe, arguing that there had to be a non-lethal use of wildlife that could be deemed as profitable.

The Duke of Cambridge spoke Thursday ahead of an worldwide wildlife protection meeting at a fundraiser for Tusk, a charity dedicated to preserving the species, and said he fears the African elephant may have disappeared by the time Princess Charlotte turns 25 if current poaching practices continue.

In a statement issued in London, Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the new action to tackle the illicit trade would be discussed at the conference.

He stated that the trade is driven by the law of demand and supply, adding that the only way to end poaching in Africa was through aggressive law enforcement, effective elephant ivory and rhino horn movement as influential market incentivisation.

The survey confirms the massive decline first revealed by Microsoft founder Paul Allen's Great Elephant Survey released last month, which looked at Savannah elephant populations in 18 countries and found they had dropped by 30 per cent to 352,000.

As a reflection of how pressing the issue is, NY officials said on Thursday that the city had seized US$4.5 million worth of illegal elephant ivory items in what they described as the biggest bust in the state's history.

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