Republic of Congo Joins Effort to Protect Elephants

13 January 2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society News Release

Geneva, Switzerland – The Republic of the Congo has confirmed that it will join the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), the African-led conservation programme to eradicate the ivory trade and stop the continued slaughter of the continent’s elephants by poachers.

The commitment was announced by the Congo delegation at the 66th Standing Committee meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Geneva yesterday.

Roger Mbete, Congo’s Director of Wildlife & Protected Areas, said, “Congo is a stronghold for one of the most important populations of forest elephants, and is working hard to ensure their protection through a number of initiatives. These include the creation of new protected areas, improved wildlife protection in production landscapes, such as forestry concessions, and the development of a national anti-poaching strategy. In this way we hope to be able to safeguard elephants, their forest habitat, and the livelihoods of the people who depend on those forests.”

The EPI was launched by leaders from Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania during the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in February 2014, with the support of the British Government and the UK-registered charity Stop Ivory. Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi and the Gambia have since also joined.

According to the most recent census carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), forest elephants in the Central African region lost 65 percent of its elephants between 2002 and 2012. Forest elephants in this part of Africa are being slaughtered for their ivory at a rate of 9 percent a year.

Mark Gately, Director of WCS’s Congo Programme, said, “Congo has shown real leadership in the field of conservation for many years, protecting its elephants and other wildlife under innovative management models in Nouabale-Ndoki and Odzala-Koukoua National Parks. By joining the Elephant Protection Initiative, the country has underlined its commitment to take concerted action to protect its elephants, and WCS is honoured to work alongside the government to support these efforts.’

The Republic of the Congo – which harbours a quarter of Africa’s remaining forest elephants – demonstrated its opposition to the ivory trade and its support for elephant conservation last year when, on the eve of a summit to draw up the first pan-African strategy on wildlife poaching, President Denis Sassou N’Guesso set fire to 4.7 tonnes of ivory. The move was heralded by international and local media, as well as conservationists worldwide, as an act of significant symbolism in the flight to end the illegal ivory trade.

Alexander Rhodes, CEO of Stop Ivory, said, “This declaration by the Republic of Congo during the meeting of the CITES Standing Committee is hugely significant. It follows the destruction by President N’Guesso of the country’s ivory stockpile last year and supports the development of its National Elephant Action Plan to secure a future for elephants and communities free from the threat from ivory poaching.”

“This declaration adds Congo’s powerful voice to the growing consensus that ivory is more valuable on living elephants than as trinkets for markets in foreign lands. Stop Ivory commends the government for its leadership ahead of the CITES Conference in September this year, where the question before the global community will be how best to secure a future for elephants, when the U.S., China and countries from all regions of Africa have agreed to stop all ivory trade.”

This latest commitment comes less than a month after Liberia became the tenth member of the EPI, with President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf referring to the occasion as momentous, not just for Liberia, but for conservation everywhere.

Sir David Richmond, CEO, The Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Conservation
said, “The Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Conservation warmly welcomes the announcement by the Republic of Congo that it is joining the Elephant Protection Initiative, and is supporting efforts to end the trade in ivory. As long as the ivory trade continues, the future of the African elephant is in peril. The Brazzaville Foundation urges all governments to back the Elephant Protection Initiative.”

The illegal killing of elephants and the trade in their ivory across Africa is undermining ecosystem integrity, economic development and the rule of law. In just three years 100,000 elephants were illegally killed to supply ivory to consumer markets.

Proceeds from this illegal trade are being used to support criminal activity, and have been reported to fund armed conflict and terrorism. Frontline conservationists are being injured and killed in the hundreds. At current rates the species faces extinction in the wild within our lifetimes.

Notes to Editors:

The Elephant Protection Initiative
In February 2014, leaders from all four regions of Africa: Botswana, Chad, Gabon, Ethiopia and Tanzania: galvanised a crisis response to implement the African Elephant Action Plan through the creation of the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI).

The EPI is the Heads-of-State initiative which is African-led, Partnership based and Results oriented. The EPI calls for elephant range states, partner states, Non-Governmental Organisations, International Government Organisations, private citizens and the private sector to work together to:

  • Maintain the international ban established by CITES in 1989 for a minimum of 10 years and thereafter until African elephant populations are no longer threatened.
  • Close domestic markets where they are still operating.
  • Put ivory stockpiles beyond economic use.
  • Provide both immediate and longer-term funding to address the Elephant Crisis through full and timely implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan through both public and private sector support.

Stop Ivory
Stop Ivory serves as the secretariat to the EPI. It is an NGO aimed at protecting elephants and stopping the trade in ivory by providing technical and financial support to countries to implement the African Elephant Action Plan under the EPI framework. Stop Ivory works with governments and a wide range of NGO, IGO and private sector partners to deliver these aims. For more information visit www.stopivory.org and elephantprotectioninitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @stopivory.

WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission.

Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.

Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Conservation
The Brazzaville Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to conflict resolution and nature conservation. It draws its inspiration from the Brazzaville Accord, which was signed in the Congolese capital on 13 December 1988. The agreement ended the Cold War in Africa almost a year before the Berlin Wall crumbled. It brought not only peace to Southern Africa but also opened the door for the release of Nelson Mandela, for a negotiated end of apartheid and the advent of the ‘rainbow nation’.

For interviews please contact:

Niamh Brannigan at niamh.brannigan@stopivory.org and +254 717733348
Ends
13/01/16


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