Africa’s plan to save the elephant
By Philip Mwakio - published on EAStandard.net
Seventeen African countries, including Kenya, have signed a document for the establishment of a coalition to save the elephant.
It was also agreed that a global elephant action plan that will fight illegal killing and trade in ivory be implemented.
It also paved way for an elephant conservation fund to be known as the African Elephant Coalition, says Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Assistant Director for Biodiversity, Research and Planning, Mr Patrick Omondi.
He said Mali, where the meeting was held, was elected chair of the coalition. Kenya is the co-chair.
The member countries are from West, Central and Eastern Africa countries.
"The body will raise funds and seek donor funding that will help States with weak enforcement and anti-poaching abilities," Omondi told The Standard.
Apart from Kenya and Mali, the other African elephant States are Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
The Malian Minister for Environment, Mr Agatham Alhassan, supported the accord.
"With limited human and financial resources, we face not only climate change challenges, but also cruel methods poachers use to slaughter elephants and devastate their habitats, which have been considered safe havens in the past," the minister said.
Omondi said the meeting symbolised the formal unification of the nations at the forefront of elephant conservation and anti-ivory trade.
"Representatives have been working closely for many years on such issues, and are now strengthening their presence with this formalisation. This is a meaningful accomplishment for countries with elephant populations," Omondi said.
He further added: "Not only are we taking a stand against the slaughter of endangered elephants, but also joining together to discuss the importance of elephant conservation and management strategies, which are essential in maintaining viable populations, and in effect, promoting tourism."
Omondi said it was significant that countries had agreed to implement decisions made at the 14th Conference of Parties of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on international ivory trade, particularly the development of an African Elephant Action Plan on conservation.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), facilitated the meeting.
Through the Director of Wildlife and Habitat Programme, Mr Kevin Shields, it commended delegates for their achievements.