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Countries urged to destroy ivory stockpiles

15 November 2013, 07:47

Nairobi - Wildlife conservationists on Thursday called on countries around the world to destroy their own ivory stockpiles.

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) also urged countries to implement the immediate domestic moratoria on trade in ivory until all elephant populations are no longer threatened. "The only way to staunch the movement of illegal ivory is to wipe out the demand, and that begins with destroying stockpiles and stopping trade," AWF CEO Patrick Bergin said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Bergin said destroying all stockpiled ivory and implementing domestic moratoria on ivory trade will send a message to buyers, traffickers, and suppliers of ivory that it is no longer a tradable commodity.

He said the move will also remove the economic incentives that drive poaching and prevent illegal ivory from being trafficked under cover of the legalized trade, in effect wiping out the illicit ivory marketplace.

"Right now, Africa is hemorrhaging elephants. Elephant carcasses, the ones that are documented, lie strewn in forests, on savannas, and in national parks, and their stolen ivory flows out of Africa's airports and seaports to illegal ivory markets around the world," Bergin said.

Concern is growing among conservationists that the endangered African elephant is currently grappling with what could be the worst crisis to ever hit them since 1989 when international commercial trade in ivory was prohibited.

Kenya has invested in state of the art technology to strengthen the fight against wildlife poaching. The introduction of scanners and sniffer dogs at border points, airports and seaports is expected to minimize smuggling of ivory and rhinoceros horns.

Conservationists say rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia has caused a poaching crisis in recent years across Kenya in particular and Africa as a whole with over 1,000 rhinos having been killed on the continent in the last 20 months.

According to the AWF statistics, as many as 50,000 African elephants are killed for their tusks every year.

- Xinhua

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