More than 200 political leaders, conservationists and businesspeople from Africa and around the world have gathered in the foothills of Mount Kenya to find ways of protecting Africa’s elephants and battling the poachers who have left them facing extinction.
In his opening speech, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared that everyone must “care about these gifts God has given us”.
He added: “Thank you for your commitment to working to stop those who wish to kill our wildlife for profit. Thank you for caring about this precious planet.
"Because of what we can achieve together in the days, weeks and years to come, we are safeguarding nature’s greatest and most endangered species for our children, for their children, and for all those children yet to come.”
The African elephant, the world’s largest land mammal, faces extinction as poaching fuelled by demand for illicit ivory surges in Asian markets. Between 20,000 and 33,000 elephants are killed every year across the continent.
At the two-day summit African heads of state will join other politicians, the UN, wildlife groups, scientists, and businesses as they seek ways to finance and conduct the battle against the poachers, and conserve the elephant population. President Ali Bongo of Gabon and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, also members of the Giants Club, addressed delegates this afternoon.
Among the announcements, Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme, will unveil a $60 million fund from the Global Environment Facility to combat the illegal wildlife trade in Africa. It will help rangers, local communities and other groups work together to protect the continent’s endangered species.
The British Army, which has a training base in Kenya, will commit to building a huge fence to protect farmers and their crops from being trampled by elephants.
Events will climax at 3pm tomorrow with the burning in Nairobi of Kenya’s entire stockpile of seized ivory. More than 105 tonnes — eight times more than has ever before been destroyed at once — will go up in flames at a ceremony attended by thousands of people. At the same time, more than a tonne of rhino horn will be destroyed.
Max Graham, founder and chief executive of Space for Giants, implementation charity of the Giants Club, said: “These two days see all the people who need to be together to accelerate progress on elephant protection to-gether in one place: Africa’s leaders, conservationists, philanthropists and investors, and people with the influence to bring others to our side.
“That is what makes this event so special — and will help secure elephants and the landscapes across which they roam forever.”
The Giants Club was founded by the Presidents of Kenya, Gabon, Uganda and Botswana, and Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, the patron of Space for Giants and the Giants Club. It was created to unite African governments, businesses and conservationists to find a solution to the poaching crisis and assist in the implementation of the Elephant Protection Initiative.
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