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The East African : Apr 6th 2015
The EastAfrican 28 OUTLOOK APRIL 4-10,2015 D E VE LO PME N T Poaching high even as activists strive to save the elephant Poache≥s we≥e ≥esponsible fo≥ the deaths of half of the 13,511 mammals sampled f≥om the elephant ≥ange states By JEFF OTIENO The EastAfrican T he rate of poaching of the African elephant is still high despite the decades-old international campaign to save the world’s largest terrestrial mammal from extinction, according to the latest data released by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). The Cites programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (Mike) said poaching rates of the African elephant still exceed the species’ natural population growth rates. “Poaching rates exceed natu- ral elephant population growth rates, meaning a continued decline in elephant numbers overall is likely,” Cites warned. The latest data show the overall elephant poaching rate remained unchanged last year when compared with the previous year. Though the levels have dropped and even levelled off since the peak in 2011, the rates still remain high. Cites scientists concluded that poachers were responsible for the deaths of half of the 13,511 mammals sampled from the elephant range states. The scientists sampled 6,569 carcasses from East Africa, 3,878 from Southern Africa, 2,630 from Central Africa and 434 from West Africa. “African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in Central and West Africa where the situation appears to have deteriorated,” said John Scanlon, Cites secretary general at a recent African Elephant Summit in Kasane Botswana. Mr Scanlon said though some positive efforts are being made to fight poaching, areas such as Bangassou, in the Central African Republic, Garamba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niassa in Mozambique, Pendjari in Benin and SelousMikumi in Tanzania, remained of “particular concern.” These areas had some of the highest poaching rates last year, contributing the bulk of the figures. Cites argues that reducing poaching rates to below natural growth rates is important if the African elephant population is to be saved from extinction. The African elephant forms part of the Big Five along with the lion, the leopard, the buffalo and the cheetah, which are a major tourist attraction both within and outside the continent. “African safaris are popular because of the big five. Without them, it would be difficult for the sector to thrive and be a major source of foreign exchange for 1.2 1900 1980 0.5 2013 Ivory seizures over 500 kilos (in tonnes) 41.7 34.8 22.2 15 2009 2010 2011 Sources : UICN, Cites Traffic many African countries,” said conservationist James Kiyangah. Mr Kiyangah warned that African safaris are popular because of the big five. It would be difficult for the sector to thrive without them.” Conservationist James Kiyangah East Africa will be one of the heaviest losers if it does not act decisively to stop the wanton poaching of elephants. This is because in all the five member states, tourism is a major source of foreign exchange and employs thousands of people directly and indirectly. In Tanzania, for example, 2013 was rated as one of the best years for tourism in recent times, after the sector earned the country $1.8 billion. According to Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu, the country registered a growth of over 50 per cent in international arrivals, receiving 1,135,884 tourists. Kenya’s tourism sector, which has suffered heavily from insecurity and travel advisories, earned about $1.07 billion in the same year, and received about 1.09 million international visitors, while Uganda, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, earned about $1 billion, contributing about 7.9 per cent to the country’s GDP. The statistics are the latest since 2013, when Cites identified 22 countries that are the most heavily implicated in the illegal trade in ivory. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania were mentioned as sources and transit points for the illegal trade. To curb the illegal trade, the three countries, along with Chi- 2012 2013 24.8 Africa 5 2009 2010 3 2011 2012 2013 Africa gets better at tracking smugglers Number of seizures over 500 kilos 16 Asia 10 8 8 The perilous future of African elephants Poaching and the ivory trade could result in one fifth of the population being wiped out in 10 years Estimated number of elephants (in 2013) The challenge of checking their numbers Definite 436,457 Elephants killed 20 000 Change in population (in millions) 20 Probable 89,970 Possible 54,689 Speculative 105,914 Eight countries most involved Poached Transit country Kenya Uganda Tanzania Malaysia Philippines Vietnam SOME GAINS Cites emphasised that some progress have been in combating the illegal ivory trade since the African elephant was listed as a threatened species and placed in Appendix One. In actual fact, substantial declines in poaching levels have been reported in Caprivi (Namibia); Chewore (Zimbabwe); Meru, Samburu and Laikipia (Kenya); RuahaRungwa (Tanzania); and South Luangwa (Zambia) Imported China Thailand na, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, all categorised by Cites as “countries of primary concern,” were ordered to develop national action plans on how they intended to fight the crime. The problem is that though the eight countries submitted their national action plans, which were approved by Cites, poaching rates still remain high. The eight countries are re- quired to submit reports on progress made in implementing action plans to the Cites secretariat by May 15. Their efforts to combat poaching will also be reviewed at the 66th meeting of the standing committee scheduled for January 2016 in Geneva. The reports from “countries of primary concern” are expected to include information on milestones and timeframes and, where possible, indicators to measure the impacts of actions in the plans, for example, data on elephant poaching levels, number of ivory seizures and successful prosecutions. Cites is not only concerned about the eight countries in the “primary concern” category, but also those in the “secondary concern” category, (Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Mozambique, and Nigeria)) and “important to watch” categpry (Angola, Cambodia, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic). Botswana u≥ged to dive≥sify ≥evenue fo≥ g≥owth By MTOKOZISI DUBE Special Correspondent The Botwana diamond industry has been portrayed as key to its economic success and stability, steering clear of the conflict and corruption that has ravaged many resource-rich countries across the continent. With its vast diamond deposits, Botswana has become one of the fastest growing economies in the continent and the world at large. According to analysts, diamonds have re- sulted in Botswana having higher economic growth rates than any other country in the world over the past 40 years. Mining of diamonds accounted for about 41 Botswana has been warned against dependance on only diamond mining. Picture: File per cent of government revenue and 32.3 percent of GDP last year. The country’s over-reliance on diamonds has left Motswana analysts anxious that a fall in diamond prices or a negative development in the diamond industry can result in the country’s economy nosediving. Former minister of minerals,Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe said a few years ago that the country’s reliance on only one mineral could be detrimental in future. “We do recognise that economic diversifi- cation is a long term process and in our case, the immediate concern is how to lessen the country’s heavy dependence on diamonds,” Dr Kedikilwe said at Resource Sector Conference. Dr Kedikilwe’s sentiments were echoed by Imara, an investment banking and asset management that called for Botswana to broaden its horizons and explore other sectors with the potential of bringing in revenue. “We believe it is paramount for Botswana to use the proceeds from its diamonds to develop other sectors of the economy,” Imara said on its website. It believes such a move will help reduce the negative impact on its economy whenever the global economy takes a hit. “As much as we laud the move to harness its coal reserves, we believe the government should also pursue diversification beyond the resource space,” it added. Botswana’s beef sector received a boost af- ter the European Union recently lifted the ban slapped on the country’s beef products last year, allowing the country to resume exporting beef to the EU market. The EU banned Botswana beef after observ- ing deficiencies in official controls, abattoir operations and certification procedures. The EU used to consume 75 per cent of the beef produced in Botswana.
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