The 3-day Elephant Summit organized by the Government of Botswana and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) drew to a much celebrated end, on December 4th in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. Delegates from governments of Elephant range states, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, bilateral and multi-lateral donors agreed on a set of ‘urgent measures’ to take, tackling increasing wildlife crime endangering elephant populations throughout the elephant range states in Africa. The preamble of the outcome document recognizes “…that sustainable use of natural resources has generated economic benefits that have contributed directly to the conservation of the species, rural development and poverty reduction in a number of countries.”
More than 20 million Euros of additional funding was announced inter alia by the European Commission, by a private philanthropist, The Netherlands and Germany. The private philanthropist pledged 7 million USD for a new, much needed elephant census through an aerial photo survey. This would be conducted over all range countries wishing to participate. It is felt that this survey would require independent scientific supervision to ensure the required credibility.
The CIC submitted extensive comments on the first draft of ‘urgent measures’ earlier, but was not invited to participate in the discussions and negotiations of the Summit during the first two days, which were reserved for government delegates and representatives of inter-governmental organizations. Whereas it was important that Ministers and heads of government delegations could set time aside to discuss among themselves informally, even without the inter-governmental organizations and the press being present, it was strange and all together unnecessary for an IUCN organized meeting to “ban” non-governmental organizations, even some IUCN members, from the Summit deliberations in the first two days. Right after the introduction of the agreed urgent measures, on the third day, the Director General of the CIC, Tamás Marghescu took the floor. He thanked both the Government of Botswana and IUCN for the invitation to the Summit and congratulated the Honourable Ministers and representatives of inter-governmental organizations for discussing and agreeing on the ‘urgent measures’. After which, he observed that sustainable hunting as a tool for conservation and hunters as important partners for the implementation of ‘urgent measures’ did not appear at all in the text. He, nevertheless, offered the assistance and partnership of the CIC, representing more than 30 million hunters world-wide to assist in the implementation of the measures.
When asked by the press about his opinion on the hunting ban coming into effect on January 1st, in Botswana, Tamás Marghescu said: “We believe that the decision of Botswana to ban trophy hunting was maybe premature, costing the livelihoods of many people in the rural areas of Botswana. Sustainable trophy hunting and photographic wildlife tourism do not exclude each other. A division in time and space is possible and the two forms of wildlife utilization can complement each other, benefitting especially the rural economy of Botswana.”
When closing the Summit, the Chair of the IUCN Elephant Specialist Group, Holly Dublin, also invited the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW), to assist in the implementation of the ‘urgent measures’ and individual partners could consider to sign the outcome document of the Summit. CPW is a voluntary partnership of 12 international organizations with different mandates on wildlife management, chaired by the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), co-chaired by the CIC and a secretariat with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
For the summary document of the conference including 14 urgent measures click here.
Author: Tamás Marghescu, CIC Director General