Zambia has assented to 14 urgent measures that aim at halting the illegal trade of elephant tusks and ivory in order to secure the population of the largest mammal across Africa.
Zambia, along with Gabon, Kenya and Niger are key African elephant range states while ivory transit states include Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.
China and Thailand are among ivory destination states.
Vice President, Guy Scott, was among representatives of other countries that reached the agreement and committed themselves to the urgent measures today at the African Elephant summit convened by the government of Botswana and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Gaborone International Convention Centre in Botswana.
Dr Scott urged stakeholders to resolve to combat illegal trading and trafficking of wildlife from other countries.
The delegates to the summit committed themselves to classifying wildlife trafficking as a serious crime.
They hoped that this classification will unlock the international law enforcement cooperation provided under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, including mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crimes.
Other measures agreed upon include engaging communities living with elephants in their conservation, strengthening national laws to secure maximum wildlife crime sentences, mobilising financial and technical resources to combat wildlife crime and reducing demand for illegal ivory.
Earlier during the official opening of the summit today, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Julia Marton-Lefevre, suggested that perpetrators of wildlife trafficking should face stiffer penalties that include seizure of assets.
After the countries reached 14 urgent measures, Ms Marton-Lefevre said, “we are very pleased with the result of the summit especially as it involves some of the most important countries along the illegal ivory value chain”.
“We hope that these outcomes will go beyond the summit’s focus on African elephants and boost broader efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade in other species which have been threatened by it, such as rhinos and pangolins,” she said.
President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, earlier prodded the 25 African countries that attended the summit along with five others from outside Africa and non-governmental organisations to stem the tide so that the posterity does not condemn the current leadership for their failure to curb illegal wildlife trade.
Minister of Tourism and Art, Sylvia Masebo, signed for 14 urgent measures agreement on behalf of Zambia.
Zambia has less than 27,000 elephants currently although the numbers are increasing due to measures government has put in place to combat poaching.
The country has about 250,000 elephants in 1989.
The African elephant or the loxodonta Africana, which is the world’s largest terrestrial mammal, is currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of threatened species, with a continental population of about 500,000 animals.
The African Elephant summit, which started yesterday, ends tomorrow.