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The second Giants Club Summit addresses the survival of our elephants

by Dr Louise de Waal
15 Mar 2018 at 09:53hrs | Views
The second Giants Club Summit meets in Kasane over the next few days, uniting African leadership with global science, finance and influence to accelerate anti-poaching efforts, close ivory markets, and fund wildlife habitat protection.

The Great Elephant Census revealed that the African elephant population declined by 144,000 animals in just seven years between 2007-14. The vast majority were killed to illegally supply ivory to markets in Asia. At this rate, this African icon could disappear from the wild within our lifetime.

The second Giants Club Summit's ultimate goal is to protect half of Africa's remaining 415,000 elephants by 2020. The Summit is hosted by President Ian Khama together with the Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife Trust and starts today in Kasane.

The Giants Club is an initiative of 'Space for Giants' that unites African heads of state with global business leaders, philanthropists, key influencers, and leading conservationists. In other words, it combines the political will, financial means, global influence, and technical capacity to protect Africa's elephants from poaching and to secure their habitat in perpetuity.

It is encouraging to note that some progress has been made in recent years. CITES most recent figures show a decline in elephant poaching for the fifth year in a row and in East Africa poaching rates are back to pre-crisis levels. China's recent ivory trade ban will hopefully curb the demand significantly; however, there is no time for complacency.

The Summit will report on the successes made, since the first meeting in 2016, in intelligence-led anti-poaching capacity in Botswana, the building of electrified fences to reduce human-elephant conflict in Kenya and Gabon, and the new international investment in conservation in Uganda.

The objectives for the 2018 Summit are to build new partnerships between China and Africa, to secure Africa's largest single remaining contiguous elephant population in Southern Africa, to promote corporate social responsibility as a way forward in funding conservation, and to set transparent and achievable goals to be met before the next Giants Club event.

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