African, Asian Nations Agree on Deal to Stop Ivory Trafficking

The African Elephant Summit calls for "zero-tolerance approach"

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Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

An elephant footprint is seen in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, on July 21, 2010

Key nations in Africa and Asia have agreed on a deal to curb the illegal ivory trade.

Meeting in Botswana, top officials and experts from 30 countries adopted a “zero-tolerance approach,” including measures such as maximum sentences and increased international cooperation, News24 reports.

The illicit trade in ivory threatens the future of the African elephant, sustains transnational crime syndicates, and causes economic, environmental and security concerns in Africa.

(MORE: The Ivory Trade Is Out of Control, and China Needs to Do More to Stop It)

“The summit is the first-ever meeting focusing on the dynamics of the entire ivory value chain,” said a statement by the event’s organizers, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the government of Bostwana. “We are very pleased with the result.”

All participants, including important countries along the trade’s route such as China, Kenya and the Philippines, agreed to sign the deal, although only seven have done so yet. That, however, was only a matter of bureaucracy, said Simon Stuart, chair of the Species Survival Commission at IUCN.

“Some countries have to get authorization from their capitals in order to sign, and others wanted more senior officials back home to do it, in order to add more strength to the signature,” Stuart told TIME.

On Wednesday, the last day of the African Elephant Summit, delegates will prioritize the measures and discuss how to implement them.