Africa joins forces on elephant management


Elephants at the Gona reZhou National Park, Zimbabwe

from DANIEL JONES in Hwange, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
HWANGE, (CAJ News) – COUNTRIES gathered at the inaugural African Elephant Summit in Hwange, Zimbabwe plan to adopt a common position on wildlife conservation in the continent.

This comes ahead of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of Parties (COP-19) in Panama in November.

This is particularly on elephant management.

This comes as despite progress in conservation in many African countries, animal activists in western countries have been advocating for the reclassification of African elephants in non-trade Appendix-1 with high restrictions on any trade.

This was one of the discussion areas that were not concluded at COP18 in 2019.

Now, nations want to lobby from one corner against the proposed ban.

Previous CITES COPs meetings have seen African states participating at variance due to differences in approaches in conservation of wildlife in general and elephants in particular.

This divide has negatively affected conservation efforts.

Africa wants the voting procedure at CITES COPs meetings replaced with science where decisions should be based on research.

“We have gathered because we have elephants and we live with them,” said Zimbabwe Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Nqobizitha Ndlovu.

A speech was read on his behalf at the elephant summit in Hwange.

“We are concerned with the increasing population and shrinkage of their habitat leading to severe habitat degradation, which is their source of food, shelter and genetic continuity,” Ndlovu

He said CITES should enable countries to benefit from abundant wildlife and wildlife products for conservation purposes.

“Southern Africa faces an increase in wildlife related conflicts, decline in funding for wildlife management, land use changes and the communities lack benefits from sustainable wildlife management hence the need for dialogue within Africa,” Ndlovu said.

Wildlife authorities in Southern Africa have ratified the call to unite against CITES.

Fulton Mangwanya, Zimparks director general, said African countries should support each other on wildlife management.

His Botswana counterpart Kabelo Senyatso concurred.

The summit continues until Thursday when the Hwange Declaration will be made.

– CAJ News