Urgent deal reached to save Africa's elephants

9th Dec 2013

Anyone who has experienced safari-based specialist tours to Kenya will know just how magnificent a creature the African elephant is and why it needs preserving.

That's why such holidaymakers will be cheered by news of an urgent deal reached in a bid to safeguard the "vulnerable" world's largest land mammal.

Kenya is one of several countries which has agreed measures to attempt to stop illicit ivory poaching and secure elephant populations throughout Africa.

Today between 470,000 and 690,000 African elephants survive in 37 countries across the sub-Saharan region, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Many of these can be enjoyed by holidaymakers on group tours to Kenya.

Mount Kenya National Park comes highly recommended as a place to watch elephants in their natural habitat.

But, with 19 national parks and big game reserves, wildlife lovers are spoilt for choice in Kenya.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Botswana government's joint summit was staged in the country's capital, Gaborone, between December 2-4.

It is the first meeting to bring together nations from across the ivory value chain.

Delegates from African states, including Gabon, Niger and Zambia, were joined by officials from ivory transit states and ivory consumers.

The representatives agreed 14 new steps, including the classification of wildlife trafficking and ivory trading as "serious crime".

This legal provision should make easier international law enforcement cooperation surrounding cases of wildlife crime.

In addition, it would facilitate the extradition of criminals and the seizure of their assets.

Measures were agreed aimed at reducing the demand for illegal ivory and to guarantee maximum sentences for wildlife criminals.

Statistics from the past three years indicate the poaching of African elephants, classed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN, may be on the rise.

Millions of elephants once lived across most of Africa, before vast quantities were destroyed by hunting.

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