Conservationists agree to protect African elephants

Representatives from six African states have agreed to stand firm and speak with one  voice to protect one of the largest land mammals on Earth’s– African elephants.
Fidel Ruzigandekwe
Fidel Ruzigandekwe

Representatives from six African states have agreed to stand firm and speak with one  voice to protect one of the largest land mammals on Earth’s– African elephants.

This was agreed at a meeting that brought the delegations together in Kigali last week.

According to a Rwanda Development Board (RDB) communiqué, the meeting followed directives by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) towards developing an Action Plan and Fund for elephants. 

Established in 1975, CITES is an international convention that prevents international trade from threatening species with extinction.

“The workshop was held to help prepare various member states for an upcoming meeting in Tanzania as well as the CITES Standing Committee 58 meeting to be held in Geneva,” reads part of the communiqué.

The six countries represented in the meeting – Rwanda, Mali, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Kenya – also form the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) Bureau, created in Mali early last year for the species’ protection and especially the regulation of ivory trade.

In the communiqué, Fidele Ruzigandekwe, Director of Conservation at RDB, is quoted saying that the Kigali meeting was successful.

“We had a successful meeting and plan to consult other Coalition members on their input to the African Elephant Action Plan as well as the Fund,” Ruzigandekwe is quoted as saying in the statement.

Other AEC members include Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia.

The World Wide Fund for Nature says there will be no elephants left in Central Africa’s Congo Basin within the next decade if more is not done to stop poaching.

Conservationists say poaching and deforestation have cut the world’s elephant population by half over the last 30 years, with fewer than 140,000 elephants left worldwide.

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