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Tue Apr 28 04:04:24 SAST 2015

Gabon bans large-calibre arms to stem elephant poaching

Sapa-AFP | 16 February, 2013 14:21
An African elephant. File photo.
Image by: DANIEL BORN

Gabon is banning large-calibre arms after experiencing a surge in elephant poaching in its national parks, the interior ministry said.

"The interior ministry has decided to suspend the sale of rifles and ammunitions of type 375 and 458, used for big game hunting throughout the national territory," it said in a statement.

Last week, a study showed that Gabon - which hosts more than half of Africa's forest elephants - has become a target for poachers who have killed at least 20 000 elephants there in the past decade. The animals are mainly hunted for their ivory.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, some of the money raised through the illegal poaching in Africa is used to finance armed groups.

The black-market trade of ivory is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and in traditional medicine.

With rare exceptions, trade in elephant ivory has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dwindled from millions in the mid-20th Century to some 600 000 by the end of the 1980s.

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