Giants Club Summit: a historic gathering to save Africa's elephants

Better protection for today, better planning for tomorrow: top Giants Club Summit conservationists to call for accelerated action for Africa's elephants and their landscapes

Monday 25 April 2016 11:26
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A herd of elephants walks across a Kenyan plain
A herd of elephants walks across a Kenyan plain

Leading conservationists and illegal wildlife trade experts will use The Giants Club Summit to call for urgent interventions from African presidents heading the forum to expand proven ways to protect elephants from poachers and loss of habitat.

Between them, the initial Giants Club member countries – Kenya, Gabon, Uganda, and Botswana – together hold more than half of Africa's remaining elephants. Actions agreed at the Summit will give those populations the greatest chance to thrive for generations to come.

The three-day Summit, hosted by Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta, opens on Thursday April 28 and aims to launch new Africa-led interventions that will:

  • Reinforce frontline protection of elephants
  • Multiply illegal wildlife trade prosecutions
  • Design smart new ways to finance the conservation and management of elephants, even after poaching ends 

Kitili Mbathi, Director General of the Kenya Wildlife Service, will attend as part of the Kenyan governmental delegation. Each of the remaining Giants Club member states will attend with their leading expert conservationists as part of their official national delegations.

Andrew Seguya, Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, will lead Ugandan conservationists, Lee White, Executive Secretary of ANPN, heads Gabon's conservation contingent, and Botswana's representatives include Mike Chase, director and founder of Elephants Without Borders, who recently completed the Great Elephant Census.

Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, the Kenyan charity that helped found The Giants Club, said: "It is no mystery to us how to protect elephants and their landscapes. It takes robust frontline protection, investment to reduce the cost and increase the benefits to local people of conserving elephants, and global efforts to cut demand for ivory.

A Kenyan wildlife officer burns 15 tons of seized ivory

"Yes, ending the demand is absolutely key. But we don’t know how long this will take. We are already losing tens of thousands of elephants a year, from a population of perhaps less than 400,000, and we desperately need a holding position. At the Summit, Space for Giants and our conservation partners will be asking the Giants to do more of what we know works to protect elephants today. That gives us that holding position to keep the remaining populations safe, and buys us some time to work to end the demand.

"We're confident we can do that. What's equally important – and not enough people are thinking about this – is what next? When we beat poaching, elephants still face enormous threats from habitat destruction and from conflict pressure from with growing human populations. We will all also be asking the Giants to commit to plans that will make sure we have the money to deal with those future challenges, so we can continue to protect elephants forever."

Among the world's leading anti-poaching and conservation experts attending the Summit are:

  • Richard    Leakey,    Chairman,    Kenya    Wildlife    Service    
  • Kitili Mbathi,    Director    General,    Kenya    Wildlife    Service
  • Lee    White,    Executive    Secretary,    Agence    Nationale    des    Parcs Nationaux,    Gabon
  • Andrew    Seguya,    Executive    Director,    Uganda    Wildlife    Agency
  • Mike    Chase,    Director,    Elephants    Without    Borders;    Coordinator,    Elephant    Census
  • Marco    Lambertini,    Director    General,    WWF
  • Matt    Brown,    Director    of    Africa    Conservation,    The    Nature    Conservancy
  • Rian    Labuschagne,    Director    for    African    Parks,    Zakouma    National    Park
  • Edward    Ndiritu,    Head    of    Anti-Poaching,    Lewa    Wildlife    Conservancy
  • Josephine    Ekiru,    Peace    Coordinator,    Northern    Rangelands    Trust
  • Azzedine    Downes,    President    and    CEO,    IFAW
  • Ian    Craig,    Director    of    Conservation,    Northern    Rangelands    Trust
  • Iain    Douglas-Hamilton,    CEO,    Save    The    Elephants    
  • Richard    Vigne,    CEO,    Ol    Pejeta    Conservancy
  • Tom    Lalaampa,    Chairman,    Kenya    Wildlife    Conservancies    Association    
  • Vivek    Menon, CEO,    Wildlife    Trust    of    India
  • Lt    Gen Ivan    Koreta,    Chair,    Uganda    Conservation    Foundation
  • Elisifa    Ngowi,    Executive    Secretary,    Serious    Crimes    Investigation    Unit,    Tanzania
  • Ali    Kaka,    Trustee,    Stop    Ivory
  • Mary    Rice,    Executive    Director,    Environmental    Investigation    Agency    
  • Jorge    Rios,    Chief    of    Wildlife/Forest    Crime,    UNODC    
  • Rudi    Van    Aarde,    Chair,    Conservation    Ecology    and    Director    of    CERU,    Uni.    of    Pretoria
  • William    C.    Woody,    Chief    of    Law    Enforcement,    US    Fish    and    Wildlife    Service
  • Paula    Kahumbu,    CEO,    WildlifeDirect
  • Peter    Knights,    Executive    Director,    WildAid
  • Shamini    Jayanathan,    Director    of    Legal    Strategy,    Space    for    Giants

During a series of Summit sessions on Friday April 29, the conservationists will lay out the practical detail of what works to protect elephants now and in the future. Immediately afterwards, the Giants Club presidents and their delegations led by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya will publicly announce interventions they will make, and invite pledges from philanthropists, institutions, bilateral donors, and partners, so the work can begin at once.

Key influencers from the worlds of music, cinema, business, and conservation, led by Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the British Evening Standard newspaper and Independent digital news platform and patron of The Giants Club, will convene for the Summit's final sessions on Saturday April 30. They will discuss how best to add the weight of their followers to accelerate implementation of the Summit interventions. The Summit ends immediately before President Kenyatta leads the destruction of Kenya's stockpile of seized ivory, in Nairobi, the afternoon of April 30.

To find out more about The Giants Club Summit go to: http://spaceforgiants.org/giantsclub/summit. To donate go to: http://spaceforgiants.org/giantsclub/donate/​

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