NAIROBI: Kenya plans to lobby African states to enhance their elephant protection measures in order to protect the mammals from becoming extinct, a government official said on Saturday.
Margaret Mwakima, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, told journalists in Nairobi that some Southern African countries currently permit domestic trade in ivory products and this could complicate efforts to save the African elephant.
“So far over 30 countries in the elephant range states in central and West Africa are supporting Kenya’s efforts to ensure all elephants are accorded the highest level of protection,” Mwakima said during a campaign walk.
Currently Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa have their elephant populations listed in Appendix two of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which means they are allowed to trade ivory while elephants from the rest of Africa are listed in Appendix one which restrict trade in ivory.
Mwakima said that the listing in two categories of African elephants endangers the elephant populations in the entire continent.
She said that most African states have agreed to lobby for the inclusion of all elephants in Appendix one during the next CITES meeting that will take place in May 2019 in Sri Lanka.
The government official said that Africa has an opportunity to save its elephant population now that China has closed its legal market for ivory trade.
Mwakima noted that the government remains committed to saving African elephant and all endangered species through the implementation of a clear framework as spelt out in the National Wildlife Strategy 2030.
Jim Nyamu, the Executive Director of the Elephant Neighbors Center, said that he is walking 4,500 kilometers through six countries that are elephant rangelands in order to raise awareness of illegal poaching of elephants in the continent.
He said that absence of sufficient integration of policies in Africa against crimes of poaching in order to protect cross-border wildlife reserves and parks has created loopholes for trophy hunters to continue their illegal activities.
Nyamu said that the existence of two categories for elephant protection serves as an incentive for poaching in Africa.