Site of the
20-year ban on trade in ivory
African states have
called for a 20-year ban on trade in ivory to protect the
continent's elephants from poachers and possible extinction in
Kenya and Mali, which spearheaded the moratorium along with Togo
and Ghana, are seeking to have the measure adopted at the June
meeting of the 169-nation Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), their
representatives said at a meeting in Paris on Tuesday.
A delegation representing some 20 African nations, including the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger, will tour Europe this
week to secure backing from the European Union for the ban, they
"The elephants are dramatically becoming depleted," said Patrick
Omondi, head of species conservation and management at the Kenya
Wildlife Service. "A 20-year moratorium is necessary to allow
the population to recover, and to refine the mechanisms of law
The African representatives lashed out at partial bans and
quotas that have been implemented in the past.
"Every time CITES authorizes the sale of limited quantities of
ivory, we witness an increase in poaching and illegal trade,"
said Bourama Niagate, head of the delegation and of nature
conservation in Mali.
"We are confronted with men who are very organized and better
armed than our standing armies, and at the same time we are in
charge of protecting hundreds of thousands of hectares (acres)
of parks and preserves without even basic communication tools,"
According to a report submitted by the African nations to CITES,
the continent's elephant population has plummeted approximately
ten-fold from up to five million in the 1940s to 400,000 to
Some 20,000 elephants are killed by poachers every year,
according to the document.
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has devastated elephant populations in Cameroon, the Central
African Republic, Congo, the DRC, as well as in Niger, Mali,
Malawi and Chad, where poachers recently killed three park
"At 850 dollars a kilo for ivory in Japan, a poacher will go to
any lengths to obtain 10 or 20 kilos," said the DRC's
representative, Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa. "We have already lost
our rhinoceros because of the trade in their horns."
In Sub-Saharan Africa, only a handful of countries — South Africa,
Namibia and Botswana — do not support the moratorium. These
nations are authorised by CITES to export limited quantities of
ivory on the condition that they maintain elephant populations at
certain levels through conservation." The challenge
is to develop the software that can process the images in real
time to throw out everything that is not a bird," said Prof Goldberg. The camera looks for rapid changes from one image to the
next in a small area of the field of view. If these have an
irregular shape and are moving at flying speed, the robot twitcher
keeps them for researchers to look at later.
It has captured a red-tailed hawk, a great blue heron and a flock
of Canada geese; but so far there has been no sign of the