UNEP-NEWS CENTRE: New Elephant poaching and ivory smuggling figures released

 

Poaching levels remain alarmingly high at over 20,000. More large ivory seizures in Africa than Asia for the first time - 

 

Geneva - Over 20,000 African elephants were poached across the continent in 2013 according to a report released on Friday by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Although the sharp upward trend in illegal elephant killing observed since the mid-2000s, which had peaked in 2011, is levelling off, poaching levels remain alarmingly high and continue to far exceed the natural elephant population growth rates, resulting in a further decline in elephant populations across Africa. 

 

The report also shows a clear increase in the number of large seizures of ivory (shipments over 500 kg) made in 2013, before the ivory left the African continent. For the first time, the number of such seizures made in Africa exceeded those made in Asia. Just three African countries - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda - accounted for 80% of those seizures. Large-scale ivory seizures are indicative of transnational organized crime being involved in the illicit ivory trade.

 

 

"Africa's elephants continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory and with over 20,000 elephants illegally killed last year the situation remains dire. Due to the collective efforts of so many, we also see some encouraging signals, but experience shows that poaching trends can shift dramatically and quickly, especially when transnational organized crime is involved," said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES.

 

 

Southern Africa continues to hold the lion's share of Africa's elephants, holding close to 55% of the known elephants on the continent. Eastern Africa holds 28% and Central Africa 16%. In West Africa, less than 2% of the continent's known elephants are spread over 13 countries.

 

 

Poverty (measured by infant mortality rates) and weak governance (measured by law enforcement capacity and corruption levels), together with demand for illegal ivory in consuming nations are three key factors linked to higher poaching levels.

 

 

Overall poaching numbers were lower in 2013 than in 2012 and 2011 - but they continue to exceed 20,000. The report warns that poaching levels will lead to continuing declines in the African elephant population.

 

 

The report identifies monitored sites where poaching is increasing (33% of monitored sites), including Dzanga Sangha (Central African Republic), as well as those sites where a decline in poaching has been observed (46%), such as Zakouma National Park (Chad). Some populations of elephants continue to face an immediate threat of local extinction.

 

 

The report containing the latest figures (2013) from the CITES Monitoring Illegal Killing in Elephants (MIKE) programme and the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) will be discussed at the 65th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee taking place in Geneva from 7 to 11 July 2014.

 

 

The monitoring data from the field is unique and it is the most comprehensive global survey of any of the 35,000 CITES-listed species. It is collected by law enforcement patrols and other means, who try to establish the cause of death and other details, every time a carcass is found. CITES then collates and analyses this data thanks to funds provided by the European Union.

 

 

Commenting on the scope of the report, Julian Blanc, responsible for the MIKE programme, said: "We are monitoring 30 to 40% of the elephant population, through a peer reviewed process that gives us the best available global estimates on the illegal killing of elephants. We hope to expand this coverage to improve on our estimates. We are supporting countries that do not have the capacity or the funds to monitor MIKE sites and are seeking further support for field rangers."

 

 

In March 2013, based on the findings of ETIS, CITES identified eight countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, China, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam) as the most heavily implicated in the illegal ivory trade chain as source, transit or destination countries. CITES took decisions at that time requesting all eight countries to develop and implement National Ivory Action Plans to tackle the elephant poaching and smuggling crisis.

 

 

These decisions are being translated into a wide-range of actions and initiatives - improved protection in the field, stronger Customs controls, better use of modern technologies and forensics - such as DNA testing and isotopes, strengthened legislation and policies, targeted investigations and more prosecutions, new public awareness campaigns, the destruction of confiscated ivory stockpiles, and the allocation of dedicated funding to combat wildlife crime.

 

 

"We are seeing better law enforcement and demand-reduction efforts across multiple countries, as well as greater political and public attention to this unfolding crisis and CITES decisions and compliance processes underpin the global effort" said Scanlon.

 

 

"The momentum generated over the past three years must now translate into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most - from the field, to Customs, to illicit markets, and only then can we hope to reverse the devastating poaching trends of the past decade" added Scanlon.

 

 

Several conferences held since CITES Parties met in 2013, including in Gaborone, London and New York, have further contributed to securing high-level political support across all continents.

 

 

The CITES Standing Committee next month will assess the eight countries National Ivory Action Plans, and will discuss the next steps to stop illegal ivory trade, including whether additional countries should develop National Ivory Action Plans.

 

 

The Committee will also consider the roll out of a wide-range of enforcement-related decisions taken by CITES in March 2013 on other species being pressured by illegal trade, including rhinos, Asian big cats, rosewood, pangolins, freshwater turtles and tortoises, great apes, and snakes, as well as a study of the legal and illegal trade in wild cheetahs.

 

 

Note to editors: For more information, contact: Juan Carlos Vasquez; +41 22 917 8156; juan.vasquez@cites.org or UNEP News Desk ; unepnewsdesk@unep.org.

 

For more Information, please consult the Official website of UNEP:  

 

Go back

CBFP News

CITES-“Sustaining all life on Earth” announced as theme of World Wildlife Day 2020

The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) announced today the theme of United Nations World Wildlife Day 2020: “Sustaining all life on Earth”. The year 2020, known as a “biodiversity super year”, will host several major global events that place biodiversity at the forefront of the global sustainable development agenda.

Read more …

Forests play a key role in tackling climate change

This briefing note from Coordination SUD and Fern analyses the issues we need to address to ensure forests help deliver tropical forested countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This includes respect for communities’ rights and preserving their livelihoods, protecting and restoring biodiversity, and improved forest governance. Tackling these challenges will require effective civil society participation.

Read more …

Cbd-Zero Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework published by the Secretariat

The Open-Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework has been tasked with advancing preparations for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. It is expected that this process will culminate in the adoption of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework by the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, at the UN Biodiversity Conference in 2020 in Kunming, China as a stepping stone towards achieving the 2050 Vision of “Living in harmony with nature".

Read more …

Ecozona-The Screaming Forest: An Ecocritical Assessment of Le Cri de la forêt

From a postcolonial ecocritical standpoint, this essay analyzes the play Le Cri de la forêt (2015) co-authored by Henri Djombo, a cabinet minister from Congo-Brazzaville, and Osée Colin Koagne, a stage director and environmental activist from Francophone Cameroon. Mindful of the rich biodiversity of the Congo Basin where the playwrights originate, the essay interrogates why the forest in the play is screaming and moves on to engage with related ecological questions such as the scapegoating of witchcraft and doubtful traditional beliefs amidst climate change.

Read more …

FERN: Five EU forest trends to watch out for in 2020 & Save the Date - February 2020 (Brussels)

In 2019, forests and forest peoples’ rights rose up the global political – and spiritual - agenda, and the EU made high profile commitments to protect forests abroad and at home as part of their European Green Deal.  But will 2020 see such commitments turned into action? Here are five questions we hope to give positive answers to at the end of the year...

Read more …

Overview and analyses of key national policies, strategies and action plans relevant to deforestation, child and forced labour, and smallholder inclusion in Cameroon

The overarching objective of this study is to identify laws and policies on deforestation, child labour, force labour and smallholder inclusion in Cameroon, and analyze how these policies support the private sector to align with the sustainable production of timber, palm oil, cocoa and rubber. This review clearly demonstrates that both government and private sector can achieve targets of curbing deforestation and ensuring effective respect of human rights along the supply chains of the selected commodities.

Read more …

Statement on the situation of wildlife in the Congo Basin (and in Cameroon in particular) - Resolving Conservation Conflicts in West/Central African Protected Areas

The statement is the outcome of a meeting of various CBFP partners at the Congo Basin Institute in Yaounde:  ...We are a group of scientists, including faculty members from respected universities in Cameroon and abroad, representatives of protected areas management units, law enforcement organisations (LAGA), rangers, and international organisations (TRAFFIC, WWF). In October 2019, we met in Yaoundé to assess the current status of conservation in the country and discuss ways forward to solve what we consider to be a conservation crisis...

Read more …

Final Communiqué of the Experts’ Meeting to Follow up on the N’Djamena Conference on The Sahel-Congo Basin Roadmap on the Operational Implementation of the N'Djamena Declaration Synthesis

The Kingdom of Belgium Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), in close collaboration with the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, hosted from 16 to 17 December 2019 in Douala, Cameroon, the Experts’ Meeting for the follow up of the International conference on Security, Poaching, Transhumance Management and the Movements of Armed Groups between the Sahel and Equatorial Africa.

Read more …

CBFP News Archive

2020