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Elephant poaching on the rise in Zambia

Posted on Feb 18 2014 | IANS

Lusaka, Feb 18 : Zambia is losing its elephants rapidly due to rising incidents of poaching.

This southern African country, home to the Victoria Falls, has recorded a steady rise in elephant poaching in recent years, signifying that the country is far from ending its fight against illegal trade in ivory, reported Xinhua citing local daily Post of Zambia.

Last year, Zambia lost a total of 135 elephants to poaching as compared to 124 in 2012 and 96 in 2011, according to the country's position paper presented at an illegal Wildlife Trade Conference held in London last week.

The country currently has an ivory stockpile of 10, 031 pieces due to a surge in illegal trade and poaching of elephants, said Zamibian Tourisma and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo.

The country has been affected by a surge of illegal trade and poaching, she added.

The elephant population has dwindled from an estimated over 200,000 head of elephants in the 1970s and 1980s to about 26, 382 , the minister said citing a 2008 survey.

"Current figures indicate that Zambia lost a total of 135 elephants to poaching in 2013 as compared to 124 elephants in 2012 and 96 elephants in 2011, respectively. This has been a stable but steady increase in poaching levels," Masebo said.

She, however, added that the rise in elephant poaching in Zambia was relatively low as compared to other neighbouring countries that have seen unprecedented high levels of poaching.

The Zambian government banned the hunting of big cats and elephants last year.

Zambian minister said funding to a government agency that manages wildlife has been increased to help it improve the management of wildlife.

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