Elephant poaching drops fifth straight year as China closes ivory market
Major new conservation programmes expanding on proven interventions that helped drive down elephant poaching and protect habitats are expected to be agreed at Africa’s leading conservation Summit, happening now in Kasane. Aptly tagged ‘The Giants Club Summit’ and held in northern Botswana in the heart of one of Africa’s last remaining great elephant habitats, Kasane, the meeting draw together political leaders, conservation scientists, philanthropists, financiers, and celebrity influencers for a three-day very high level forum.
The Summit outcomes are expected to include:
– Three African Presidents lead dozens of other countries on the continent signing a 1.1 million signature petition calling on the EU to close its ivory trade
– New funding is found to expand wildlife protection in Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe
– New measures announced to tackle increasing Human-Elephant conflict in Gabon and His Excellency Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Botswana’s President, will take part, joined by senior ministerial representatives of President Ali Bongo of Gabon, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
Delegations from China, the European Union, the United Kingdom, UN Environment, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the National Geographic Society will also attend.
Other participants include: Major General Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo, Director of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks; Mike Chase, CEO Elephants Without Borders; Grace Gabriel, Asia Regional Director, IFAW; Pat Danbe, De Beers; Laura Turner Seydel, Captain Planet Foundation; and Alice Eve and Nadya Hutagalung, Actresses.
“We can’t say this loud enough: the job of beating the poachers is not yet done,” said Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, the international conservation organisation co-hosting the Summit.
“There have been some incredible successes and we’ll rightly cheer those. But I’m worried we’re taking our foot off the pedal, and that could be catastrophic for elephants, their landscapes, and the economies that conservation drives.
“The Summit, gathering as it does leaders from countries that together hold more than half of Africa’s remaining elephants, could not come at a more urgent time. I’m very excited that we’re in Botswana, which is such a byword for effective conservation, and I’m excited to get down to the hard work really to make a difference for today, for tomorrow and forever.”
The Summit is co-hosted with the Tlhokomela Trust, Botswana’s endangered wildlife trust. It runs from 15 to 17 March in the town of Kasane, and has three key aims:
– Celebrating progress against poaching and ivory market closures, while warning against complacency and calling for remaining markets to close
– Exploring what works best in frontline wildlife protection and judicial strengthening and expanding it to new elephant populations and landscapes
– Innovating new ways for conservation enterprise to bring value to wild landscapes, with a focus on the ‘Botswana model’ for responsible investment
The Giants Club is an initiative of Space for Giants. It aims to effectively protect half of Africa’s elephants and their landscapes by 2020 by uniting the political will, technical know how, and financial muscle to achieve that goal.
Its founding Presidents are the Heads of State of Gabon, Kenya, and Uganda, and President Khama in his role as the patron of the Tlhokomela Trust. These four countries alone are home to half of Africa’s remaining elephants. The Giants Club’s members include international philanthropists and financiers, and key influencers including celebrities.
Conservation scientists are technical advisors. The Summit gathers members to hear innovative ideas how to protect elephants and their landscapes before negotiating finance and securing political will to expand the reach of those ideas.
The 2018 Summit builds on the momentum sparked by the inaugural Giants Club Summit in Kenya in 2016. Achievements from programmes launched then include:
– A new intelligence-led special operations anti-poaching unit for Botswana
– Frontline ranger training and mentoring in Kenya
– Elephant fences to protect farmers’ crops in Gabon and Kenya
– Strengthening legal deterrents against wildlife crime in Uganda and Kenya
– A pioneering Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum in Uganda
– The Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellowship Space for Giants’ approach has been proven again and again, and in Kenya the organisation’s interventions helped to drive an 84% drop in poaching and reduce Human Elephant Conflict that was costing subsistence farmers more than $1 million a year.