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Elephant Meat The `New Ivory'

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-WSPA-AUSTRALIA-&-NZ

ELEPHANT MEAT THE `NEW IVORY' ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT ON AFRICA'S BUSHMEAT CRISIS (CITES TO DISCUSS THE BUSHMEAT ISSUE FOR THE FIRST TIME)

"If the international community does not respond vigorously and comprehensively to the bushmeat crisis, most endangered medium and large sized mammals, and many endangered birds and reptiles, will be extinct in these areas within the next 10 to 20 years." - Dr Jane Goodall, WSPA Advisory Director.

WSPA's report, 'Bushmeat - Africa's Conservation Crisis', examines the close links between the illegal bushmeat trade and the logging industry, and how European development aid has contributed to the worsening crisis.

It also reveals how the hunting of elephants for their meat has now become a more lucrative activity than ivory smuggling itself in some parts of Africa. An investigation by WSPA Advisory Director Karl Ammann has revealed how hundreds of kilogrammes of elephant meat are illegally being traded across the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"WSPA estimates that several elephants are being killed every day for their meat and ivory in the Congo basin alone, with the meat being more valuable to hunters than the ivory" says Kylie Jones, Regional Manager, WSPA Australia & New Zealand. Typically, elephant meat is sold for about $60 per 100 kg, while ivory can fetch about $14 per kg; economies of scale mean that the total value of the meat is usually several times greater than that of the ivory.

Logging operations in Central and West Africa's forests continue to be instrumental in this illegal trade. In many undeveloped areas, the timber truck remains the principal means of transport, facilitating the transport of poachers and bushmeat. Some logging agents supply hunters with guns and food whilst others are involved in buying and re-selling bushmeat.

International aid agencies also play a role, providing funding for logging roads and other 'development' projects that are providing access to the forests, thereby damaging indigenous communities and destroying wildlife and their habitats. Ironically, the European Union and World Bank continue to introduce conservation projects whilst simultaneously providing financial backing to projects with proven or potential adverse impact upon forests, wildlife, indigenous peoples and other local communities.

Governments have been slow to respond to this crisis and political commitments on paper have not been translated into meaningful action on the ground, due to a lack of political will and financial resources. Corruption is rife at all levels of government in west and central Africa, further undermining any attempts to enforce laws.

Jonathan Pearce, WSPA Campaigns Director, said, "Despite pledges from governments and the timber industry to curb the illegal trade in bushmeat little has been achieved on the ground. Today, endangered species are being killed at a greater rate than ever before. The provision of aid for development projects and conservation initiatives must be put under closer scrutiny until a more genuine attempt is made to protect wildlife in central Africa."

The bushmeat issue is to be discussed at this year's meeting of CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) in Kenya from 10-20 April. This will be the first time that CITES has looked at this issue and it is scheduled to be discussed at a special session on Saturday 15th April. A WSPA delegation will be lobbying CITES delegates to ensure that governments in Central Africa take action to protect endangered species from being hunted and eaten to extinction.

WSPA delegates at this weeks meeting of CITES are calling for the following measures to be taken to stem the tide of bushmeat being consumed in Africa: 1. International development agencies must ensure that all development projects undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to approval to ensure that forests, wildlife, indigenous peoples and local communities are not adversely affected. 2. European Governments and the European Commission must urgently implement a wide range of measures to protect wildlife threatened by the bushmeat trade that they voted for at a meeting with African governments in 1996. 3. Timber companies should adopt a code of conduct aimed at minimising the impact of hunting in logging concessions. 4. All future forest concession agreements must include specific management plans to conserve wildlife and the means to achieve those objectives.

ENDS

MEDIA RELEASE FROM WSPA AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

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