Gabon launches elephant fences in pioneering conservation move

President Ali Bongo of Gabon launches plan to reduce human-elephant conflict as part of the Pan-African Giants Club

Oliver Poole
Thursday 25 August 2016 13:32
Comments
Projet Fils et Faune

The President of Gabon, one of the founding members of the Giants Club conservation initiative, today demonstrated his commitment to his people and conservation by officially launching the first elephant fence in Gabon.

Human elephant conflict is a daily reality across Gabon where people and elephants live side-by-side in many locations, resulting in economic losses to farmers and retaliatory killings towards elephants.

Elephants are capable of destroying entire livelihoods in a single night. The construction of the electric fence will protect several hundred farmers and significantly reduce damages caused by elephants in the region, thereby boosting local support for their protection.

Announcing the start of work on building the project, President Bongo said: “Here in Gabon we are lucky to live amid some of the most beautiful forests on the planet and to share our country with one of the world's most special creatures: the forest elephant. Yet in Gabon we also have some of the hardest working farmers who help produce the food for our tables.

“This fence is an important step in protecting their livelihoods, while also helping protect our elephants from leaving their natural habitats. I am delighted work has now begun on this fence and I would like to thank the Giants Club, and its implementation charity Space for Giants, for the assistance they are providing our wildlife service in delivering this project for the Gabonese people.”

The launch of the 50km fence project, which the Giants Club has helped finance to USD 200,000, comes just three months after the inaugural Giants Club Summit hosted in Nanyuki, Kenya, attended by African presidents, philanthropists and conservation experts from around the globe. The goal of the Giants Club is to effectively protect some 200,000 elephants – 50 per cent of the continental total – by 2020.

Supporting the launch of the project are Professor Lee White, Director of the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, and Dr Max Graham, the CEO of Space for Giants, the Giants Club's implementation charity.

Prof White said: “Today the President, with support from the ANPN and Space for Giants, has made a clear statement of intent to secure our people’s livelihoods and preserve our natural heritage for future generations. We look forward to scaling up and delivering a comprehensive human elephant conflict mitigation strategy in the months to come.”

Dr Graham said: “Gabon is home to the vast majority of forest elephants remaining on this great continent and it is here where the future of the species will be decided. The implementation of this human elephant conflict mitigation strategy is critical to ensure that people and elephants can live together for generations to come. We are delighted by this show of commitment by one of the founding members of the Giants Club.”

Short electric fences (3 foot tall), with electrified protruding arms (outriggers) conducting charges in excess of 7000 volts have proven the most effective at keeping elephants at bay in Giants Club-supported projects in Kenya and the fences in Gabon will mirror this sophisticated elephant-proof design. This initial pilot fence will take approximately four months to construct and will use over 10,000 poles and 400km of electrified wire.

Along with the construction of elephant-proof fences, President Bongo announced at the Giants Club Summit in April that the ANPN would double its staff capacity from 750 to 1,500 greatly increasing their impact on the ground. Frontline protection and judicial interventions initiatives to boost the ranger network on the ground and support the criminal justice pathway in courts will also be delivered in the coming months.

The Giants Club is supported by ESI Media, the UK-based media group that owns the London Evening Standard newspaper and The Independent digital sites. ESI Media's owner, Evgeny Lebedev, is patron of the Club and also of Space for Giants.

With Gabon, the Club's other member states are Kenya, Botswana and Uganda. Together these countries are home to almost half remaining savannah elephants and some 70 per cent of the forest elephant.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in