The just ended African Elephant Conference has urged animal welfare organizations to “not only oppose conservation philosophies in key range states but also fund wildlife conservation”.
Zimbabwe hosted the conference at Hwange Safari Lodge, the country’s largest wildlife park which is in southwestern Zimbabwe. It was aimed at trying to win international support for its campaign to be allowed to sell its stockpile of seized ivory.
It was attended by Ministers and senior government officials from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as key non-state actors from the AWF, IFAW, Conservation Force, IUCN AESG, TRAFFIC, WWF, and local wildlife NGOs.
In a statement, the government of Zimbabwe said:
“The conference noted that while the regional African elephant population is declining, the number of elephants in southern Africa is increasing, demonstrating good conservation practices that ought to be recognised and provide lessons learnt for other countries to emulate.
“Hence countries with high elephant populations must be heard and listened to, and must benefit from their efforts in conserving their elephants.
“The conference concurred that the voices of communities that co-exist with wildlife must be included in decision-making because they bear the brunt of living with wildlife.”
The stakeholders agreed that “there is a need for long-term funding for wildlife conservation from a variety of sources including but not limited to wildlife trade.
“Animal welfare organizations should not only oppose conservation philosophies in key range states but also fund wildlife conservation.”
The conference further noted the information gap in local and international media about wildlife management and agreed to cultivate good media relations by inviting local, regional, and international media to participate in technical workshops to better understand conservation issues.
Government further stated that community involvement in elephant conservation was required at the national, regional, and international levels.
“There is a need to develop a functional Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) policy and legislation that allow communities to receive benefits that outweigh the costs of management,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe last week said if it is not permitted to sell off its 130 tons of ivory, estimated to be worth US$600 million, it may quit the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES.