African elephants face extinction threat, warns UN officialListen /
The high levels of elephant poaching in Africa could soon lead to local extinctions if the present killing rates continue.
The warning has come from John Scanlon, the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Speaking at a ceremonial destruction of over six tonnes of confiscated ivory in southern Guangdong province in China on Monday, he said 22,000 African elephants were illegally killed in 2012.
China is a main destination country for illegal elephant ivory.
Mr. Scanlon said the figures, coupled with data from 42 sites across 27 African countries demonstrate that current levels of elephant poaching in Africa are far too high.
The situation is particularly acute in Central Africa where the estimated poaching rates are twice the continental average.
Mr. Scanlon said the destruction of 6.2 tonnes of seized ivory shows that China is sending what he called "an unequivocal message – both domestically and internationally – that it will not tolerate this illegal trade."
This message, he added, is strongly reinforced by the increased numbers of seizures, as well as prosecutions and convictions of people found guilty of illegally trading in elephant ivory in China.
Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.