Zambia has recorded a steady rise in elephant poaching in recent years, signifying that the country was still far from ending the fight against illegal trade in ivory, the Post of Zambia reported on Monday.
Last year, the southern African nation 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, Britain last week.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo said the country currently has an ivory stockpile of 10, 031 pieces due to a surge in illegal trade and poaching of elephants, adding that Zambia has been affected by a surge of illegal trade and poaching.
The elephant population, she said, has dwindled from an estimation of over 200, 000 head of elephants in the 1970s and 1980s to about 26, 382 according to 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," she was quoted as saying by the paper.
The Zambian minister however said the steady rise in elephant poaching in Zambia was relatively low as compared to other neighboring countries that have seen unprecedented high levels of poaching.
Last year, the Zambian government banned the hunting of big cats and elephants and the Zambian minister said funding to a government agency that manages wildlife has been increased to help it improve the management of wildlife.
The high-level meeting in London was called to inject a new level of political commitment into efforts to tackle the problem of illegal wildlife trade.