Despite ‘justified’ celebrations of anti-poaching progress that has seen illegal killings of elephants dropping for five years in a row across Africa, “the job is not done” to protect populations forever, this publication has learnt.
The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism; Tshekedi Khama debunked this myth when he said that, “Our elephants are under threat from poaching and we are not satisfied that the equation has been concluded on anti-poaching.”
With the ecosystem now facing increased pressure from poachers, Khama is adamant that the day when we all realise that environment and wildlife are the most important assets that we have, will be the day we can say we have succeeded.
“Central Africa’s herds of forest elephants also continue to suffer very high levels of illegal killing. There’s no time left now for talk, talk, talk, we just need to get on with it. These populations of wildlife are the reserves for the future.”
He applauded the Giants Club saying of the many initiatives to protect elephants, the Giants Club is the “first one that we’ve seen something tangible coming out.” The Giants Club is an initiative of Space for Giants that 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.
This year alone philanthropists, governments, and corporate leaders from Europe, China, the US and Africa today pledged more than $6 million for urgent action to protect wildlife habitats at the close of a key conservation summit.
$2 million from the EU and matched funds is reserved to train KAZA rangers and prosecutors, $2 million ‘Challenge Fund’ from Giants Club members, $1.5 million expected value of new work by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, $280,000 for improving prosecutions and sentencing in Uganda from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Department of the Interior, $200,000 to boost wildlife crime court cases in Botswana from Wild Lives Foundation, $100,000 from the African Wildlife Foundation for Uganda tourism and conservation initiative From the summit held last week in Kasane, members gathered to make out innovative ideas how to protect elephants and their landscapes before negotiating finance and securing political will to expand the reach of those ideas. Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants said there have been some major gains made against poaching which is all worth celebrating. “But to hear that elephants in the region we thought were safest are actually under new and growing threats, it’s a huge worry.
“I’m grateful that the Giants Club has come together and done what it does best: galvanise new money for quick and effective action,” Graham said.