Zambia has urged wildlife products consumer countries to emulate the United States of America’s effort to stop illegal trading and trafficking of wildlife from other countries.
Vice President Guy Scott said the United States of America should be commended for ordering that global wildlife trafficking should be combated.
Dr Scott said combating global wildlife trafficking was one effective way of conserving wildlife in countries where animals such as elephants are found because they would discourage poaching.
“I would like to commend President Obama for issuing the executive order aimed at combating global wildlife trafficking,” he said.
Dr Scott was speaking today during the official opening of the African Elephant summit in Gaborone in Botswana.
He said the USA government should however engage African countries in dialogue and work together with them in mapping out the strategy of combating global wildlife trafficking.
And Dr Scott has disclosed that the Zambian government was working hard to protect and preserve the elephants in the country.
He told the summit that the country has since put up a moratorium on elephant hunting and was devising other ways aimed at increasing the elephant population.
Dr Scott has also commended the government of Botswana for organising the summit together with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
And the President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama observed that wildlife crime has become a modern day international problem which was usually driven by people that have never lived close to the natural resources which they were exploiting.
Lieutenant General Khama said when he officially opened the summit today that wildlife trafficking was currently the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after illegal trading in drugs, humans and arms.
He noted that this crime was threatening to overturn conservation gains which many countries have made in recent years.
“It is clear that unless these highly-valued resources are protected, very few will derive benefits from their exploitation. Those engaged in illegal exportation and importation of our wildlife will thrive while those living in close proximity and dependent on these same resources will suffer endless opportunity costs,” he said.
President Khama further said there was therefore need for leadership commitment and direction at the highest political level to ensure that necessary resources were provided for a highly integrated approach to law enforcement.
He said the African Elephant Action Plan provides a good framework for dedicated conservation of the largest mammal in the world.
Lt. Gen. Khama has since called for immediate collective action that would curtail the crimes of trafficking in wildlife.
Earlier, the Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Julia Marton-Lefevre said African governments must invest heavily in protecting their remaining wild areas and securing funds and equipment for people in the frontline of conserving nature and wildlife.
Ms Marton-Lefevre said all concerned countries, non- governmental organisations and other stakeholders should address the issue of organised crimes in ivory trafficking and ensure that those responsible face tough penalties.
She suggested that those responsible for organised crimes should be apprehended, punished heavily and have their properties seized so that this can act as an effective deterrent to would be criminals of wildlife trafficking.
“Elephants indeed are a symbol of what we most value about the natural world. They capture the hearts and minds of many around the world and their future in the wild will be in many ways a litmus test. If we fail Africa’s elephants, what will future generations say of us all?” she asked.
Dr Scott is accompanied to the summit by Minister of Tourism and Art, Sylvia Masebo and Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Director General Xenophone Vlahakis.
The meeting closes tomorrow and is expected to come up with tangible resolutions that will reverse the high trend that threatens elephants with extinction.