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.
"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.
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