Global partnership formed to save African elephants in protected areas

Sept. 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Conservation groups and six African countries committed to protect African elephants, reduce trafficking and lower consumer demand for ivory, organizers said.

The commitment is backed by an $80 million action plan from the United States to strengthen security for elephants in their range while investing more in intelligence networks, customs inspections and consumer education, National Geographic said Thursday in a release.

The Partnership to Save Africa's Elephants was announced during an event hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. The partnership is led by five "Commitment Makers" -- the Wildlife Conservation Society the African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and World Wildlife Fund -- with "Commitment Partners" support by the National Geographic Society, African Parks Network, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Freeland Foundation, Howard Buffett Foundation, International Conservation Caucus Foundation, Save the Elephants, TRAFFIC, WildAid and WildLifeDirect.

Nations joining in commitment include Botswana, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi and Uganda.

These funds will be used to support national governments to ramp up anti-poaching enforcement at the 50 priority elephant sites, including hiring and supporting 3,100 more park guards, organizers said. In addition, anti-trafficking efforts will be strengthened by growing intelligence networks, raising penalties for violations, and adding training and sniffer dog teams at 10 key transit points.

Efforts to try to reduce ivory demands will be implemented in 10 consumer markets over the next three years, officials said.

Leaders from African nations also have called upon countries to adopt moratoriums on commercial ivory imports, exports and domestic sales of ivory products until African elephant populations no longer are threatened by poaching.

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