NEW DELHI (AP) — Representatives of eight countries with large wild elephant populations pledged Tuesday to eradicate poaching of the animals and smuggling of ivory to ensure their survival for future generations.
The environment ministers and officials from Asia and Africa also urged all 50 nations with significant numbers of elephants to meet in two years to adopt a shared vision for promoting their conservation and welfare.
Delegates at Tuesday's "Elephant 8 Ministerial Meet" underscored threats to elephant habitats from mining, deforestation and land development.
Although the threat to elephants is not as dramatic as that facing tigers, the steady decline of their population is worrying, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
"Unlike the tiger, which faces a crisis of extinction, the elephant in India faces a crisis of attrition," he said.
In less than a century, the number of Asian elephants has fallen by 50 percent.
According to the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature, 38,500 to 52,500 wild elephants survive in Asia and another 15,000 in captivity.
The larger African elephant, although more numerous, is also listed as an endangered species, subject to threats from poachers, mining and deforestation. There are around 470,000 to 690,000 African elephants.
Environment ministers or officials from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Botswana, Congo, Kenya and Tanzania attended the meeting in New Delhi.