BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) — The presidents of Republic of Congo and Chad on Wednesday set fire to five tons of ivory seized from poachers, using seized timber, to mark their commitment to the fight against poaching on the continent.
The burning took place on the sidelines of the International Conference on the Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Flora and Fauna in Africa. Leaders are drafting the first pan-African strategy to combat the illicit trade in flora and fauna, which will be presented to the African Union in June in Johannesburg, the United Nations Development Program said in a statement.
"We have liquidated all of our ivory stock from fraudsters, because this is a dirty product, and we must draw a line," said Republic of Congo minister of forest economy Henri Djombo.
The country's president Denis Sassou N'Guesso said poaching is one of the most savage practices of the time. "This phenomenon is of a criminal dimension," on a continent that has 450,000 elephants now compared to more than 1 million in 1980, he said.
Chadian President Idriss Deby called for international coordination to stop poaching in Africa.
Higher demand for ivory is fueling elephant killings by poachers across Africa. Save The Elephants said last year that 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa between 2010 and 2012.
Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF in the U.S., said in a statement Wednesday: "Illegal ivory trade not only leads to the wholesale slaughter of wild elephants, it is also risks the lives and livelihoods of local communities, facilitates the growth of corruption, and undermines national and regional security."