African Elephant Coalition roots for conservation, not ivory trade

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Mombasa, Kenya
African elephant range states meeting in Mombasa, Kenya, have raised exception with undue focus on ivory trade within the CITES framework, saying preference should instead be given to conservation of elephants and mitigating challenges such as human wildlife conflict, law enforcement, building management capacity for range states and establishing mechanisms for local and trans- boundary elephant translocations. 
In  a communiqué read by Mali delegate, Alpha Maiga, the range states also opposed a recommendation by the CITES Secretariat designating China as an Ivory trade partner and resolved to make a formal communication before the CITES Standing Committee Meeting 57 scheduled set for July 2008 in Geneva.  Consideration for further trade and trading partners, they also resolved, should only be made after the one-off sale approved at CoP 14 has taken place and the effects of that sale are documented and understood.
 
Kenya Wildlife Service Director, Julius Kipng’etich, urged range states to enhance trust and eliminate the mistrust that seems to divide African so far as elephants and their conservation is concerned. “We are building a framework for teamwork in the management of biodiversity in Africa. In the long term, we  hope to strengthen collaboration between states to the point at which the Coalition’s resolutions can be discussed at the highest level on the continent - the African Union (AU.)”
 
Other highlights of the meeting include an appeal to form an Ministerial committee to coordinate the African Elephant Action Plan, fundraising and resource mobilization and the sharing of technical expertise among states, which Kenya’s Wildlife Minister Dr Noah Wekesa termed as a boon for elephants given the challenge that most African States face in financing conservation. 
 
James Isiche, Regional Director for IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) who facilitated the Coalition Meeting said collaborative efforts could immensely boost management capacity for conservation. “Solutions to some of the challenges that range states face in managing their elephant populations can be found within the African Elephant Coalition - in terms of shared expertise, resources and in structures such as the Africa Elephant Fund. IFAW has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Coalition because we – the coalition and IFAW – share similar values,” he said.

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