World Leaders Gather to Ponder Wildlife Crises


Governments will gather at back to back conferences in Kasane, Botswana, next week to review the successes, or otherwise, of recent attempts to better protect elephants and end illegal wildlife trade.

On Monday, 23 March, the African Elephant Summit will gather governments from around the world to discuss and review progress on measures agreed in December 2013 intended to alleviate the poaching of elephants in the wild, driven by global demand for ivory.

This is followed on Wednesday, 25 March, by an international conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade which will review the progress made by the 41 signatories to the London Declaration of 2014 which acknowledged the scale of illegal wildlife trade and recognised that poaching and trafficking of wildlife undermined the law and was linked to corruption and organised crime, and how they intended to end it.

Video: The Duke of Cambridge making a speech at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London in 2014.

‘Poaching of wildlife and illegal wildlife trade has reached the point of crisis, so it’s essential that governments are willing to critically examine and discuss how successful they have been in living up to the commitments they have made to safeguard wildlife,’ said Jason Bell, Director of  the IFAW Elephant Programme.

‘In the past 15 months dozens of governments have promised to act against the entire trade chain – range, transit and consumer nations. The Kasane summits cannot be another session in which world leaders sit and talk about a problem – we need to see if their efforts are bearing fruit in the fight against poaching and illegal trade, and for them to decide on meaningful next steps.’ Jason Bell, IFAW

The number of poached rhinos has soared in the past year, with South Africa losing a record 1,215 rhino in 2014 – a 21 per cent increase over 2013, while elephants around the world continue to be slaughtered in their tens of thousands to feed the illegal ivory trade.

‘On a more positive note, estimated tiger numbers in India have increased by nearly a third in the past three years, from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014,’ said Bell.

‘This shows that conservation measures coupled with commitment to law enforcement can have an impact for saving species at risk.’

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks among damaging and dangerous global crimes such as trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

The 2013 IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal wildlife trade poses to elephants, rhinos and people.

To combat this deadly illegal trade, IFAW trains law enforcement officers – more than 2,600 to date – in wildlife trafficking prevention in  source, transit and consumer countries throughout the world. The organization collaborates with INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme, regional law enforcement bodies and national wildlife law enforcement agencies.


IFAW Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare saves individual animals, animal populations and habitats all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, whether it’s dogs and cats, wildlife and livestock, or rescuing animals in the wake of disasters. We also advocate saving populations from cruelty and depletion, such as our campaign to end commercial whaling and seal hunts. Go to to find out more about our campaigns.



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1 Comment

  1. Among these ‘world leaders’ gathering in Kasane will be Comrade Saviour Kasukuwere, the Zimbabwe Minister for Environment. The man who defends the capture of 80 elephant calves to sell to Chinese zoos and circuses, who fudges the numbers of elephants in Zimbabwe saying there are (a ficticious) 85,000 strong population. Who defend the capture of these dependant calves (if not dependant on milk certainly on the care, teaching and socialisation of their families) as a “wildlife management policy”. What hope elephants when “world leaders” have no understanding of the depth of scientific knowledge gathered over the past 50 years or so about elephants. How can a man like this be responsible for decision making for Africa’s elephants? How can men such as this be the deciders for animals whom they have no interest in protecting. I despair for Africa’s wildlife – particularly the last of the lion, rhino and elephant – when they are seen only as either problem animals or value to the highest bidder in trophy hunting, live sales or meat; and for those countries in which elephants are listed as CITES Appendix II the never ending push to try (at CITES Conference of Parties) to mount a mechanism for trade of the stockpiles of their tusks for ivory – despite the moratorium. Let’s hope someone at the conference mentions to Kasukuwere some facts and realities about the abhorrent Zimbabwe capture and imminent sale of these littlest exapmples of African Wildlife Management. I have little hope that this Summit will bring about real change given the calibre of a ‘leader’ like this attending, unless they have infusions of knoweldge and decision making; based on scientific fact, takes a turn for the better. Someone please have a chat with the Minister and try to make him see what he is doing is wrong for elephants.

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