An EU response to the African Wildlife Crisis

IFAW calls for a Conservation Strategy for Africa to be developed to guide Europe’s interventions in Africa.IFAW has long called for Europe to play its part in conserving our natural heritage and end the poaching crisis besetting some of the most endangered species in the world.

The EU, and the world’s wildlife, need a fully funded conservation strategy for Africa to guide European Member States’ conservation interventions. That strategy should take the form of  a Trust Fund established to protect priority sites and combat wildlife trafficking and poaching.

We have been successful in convincing the European Parliament of the need for such a mechanism. President Hollande of France has also been persuaded of using pooled European country resources, through the European Development Fund, to reduce wildlife crime and ensure greater protection of wildlife in Africa. Judging by the presentations and speeches made at a European Commission conference on conservation in Africa on the 9th – 10th February, it appears the message is slowly reaching the Commission and Member States.

IFAW is pleased to report that after several months of research, DG DEVCO, various consultants, IFAW and other NGOs have produced a detailed document called "Larger than Elephants: Inputs for the design of an EU Strategic Approach to Wildlife Conservation in Africa".

For our part, IFAW and our on the ground specialists have inputted heavily into this document, and are broadly pleased with the final product. Crucially, it answers IFAW’s call for a Conservation Strategy for Africa to be developed to guide Europe’s interventions in Africa.

This technical document is planned to form the basis of the EU activities in the area for the next 10 years. It details priorities in the following domains:

  1. site protection of 80 Key Landscapes for Conservation,
  2. local development projects in periphery,
  3. law enforcement and capacity-building of national services,
  4. fight against wildlife trafficking and
  5. demand reduction.

It brings together two IFAW strategies under one European umbrella – IFAW’s Elephant Landscape projects and our Wildlife Trade Programme interventions. This underlines the importance of improving in situ protection from both habitat loss and competition, while at the same time working to stop demand from the ultimate consumer.

The intention is to focus on the conservation of large ecosystems that support important wildlife populations in Africa. But, has the flexibility to target smaller areas, if necessary, if a particularly threatened species is dependent on the region.

Furthermore, the report reinforces IFAW’s position that the need for anti-poaching and anti-trafficking measures would be greatly curtailed if the principal market force driving the trade, namely consumer demands, could be reduced or even eliminated. The approach involves conducting scientific surveys of consumer behaviour and attitudes; raising awareness among consumers of the cruelty of the trade and its role in endangering species; and - for some commodities - debunking their alleged medicinal properties. IFAW has been working hard in china to reduce such demand for ivory, by raising awareness. The Key Opinion Leaders campaign seeks to promote those of influence to spread the word against buying ivory.

The Strategic Approach to Wildlife Conservation in Africa is presented in six volumes as follows:

You can also download the full document or learn more on the EuropeAid site, here.

The report was presented at a conference in Brussels on the 9th and 10th February. The issues touched at the conference have been with us for years: bush meat, community conservation, protected area management, illegal trade. What is new perhaps is the recognition of the linkage between many of these traditional issues and insecurity, especially in remote rural areas where much of the wildlife remains. 

Noting the importance of IFAW’s work in the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East, IFAW’s Wildlife Trade Programme Director, Kelvin Alie, was invited to speak on the link between these two regions and the wildlife trafficking chain, and the need to support a Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network.

It was an inspiring meeting, and initiated a process that will lead, we all hope, to an effective strategy for EU support for wildlife conservation in Africa. But that is all it was – a meeting. A talking-shop.

The time has come to transform words into actions.

We believe that the European Member States must embrace this strategy, and establish a Trust Fund to fully implement its recommendations.

IFAW will continue to play its part, both in the field and in working with our supporters to make the case for action; but without agreement from your governments, perhaps only words will remain.


Learn more about IFAW efforts to protect wildlife from criminal trade.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy