The Government of Botswana through Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism will be hosting the Kasane Elephant Summit on the 7th May 2019 at Mowana Safari Resort and Spa from 0800hrs. The summit will be officially opened by His Excellency the President of Botswana, Dr Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi.
The Summit will be preceded by a technical meeting on Friday, 3rd May (today), followed by the Ministers meeting on the 6th May and ultimately the Heads of State Summit on the 7th May 2019. The Kasane Elephant Summit aims to bring together Heads of States, Ministers, Regional Integration bodies for Kavango Zambezi Transfontier Conservation Area (KAZA).
Amongst others who will attend the summit are inter-government organisations, conservation organisations, wildlife researchers, donors and philanthropists to discuss the most recent developments, concerns as well as challenges encountered and solutions to be adopted in the field of Human Wildlife Interaction.
“The African elephant has been the subject of much discussion in international fora such the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of fauna and flora (CITES). The conditions for trade in elephants and their parts and derivatives have been the subject of often acrimonious debate with onerous conditions being placed upon those countries whose elephant populations are currently on Appendix II,” the ministry said in a statement.
Furthermore, the Tourism Ministry said, “A moratorium on international trade has been in place since 2009 until 2017 but illegal trade has actually increased tremendously during this nine-year period. Meanwhile ivory stocks held by the countries whose populations are on Appendix II have continued to grow at an exponential rate. This has placed an undue burden on such countries to secure this valuable resource.
Any efforts by southern African elephant range states to manage their populations is subjected to constant media glare with much of this coverage ignoring the plight of rural communities who bear the brunt of living with elephants. The most resent being when Botswana consulted citizens on lifting the suspension of the ban.”
The search for effective measures and a lasting solution challenges posed by elephant is one of the most significant conservation challenges facing many governments in the southern African region, which is home to the largest number of elephants on the continent, with 75% of these elephants found within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
There is serious concern about the recent upsurge in the illegal offtake of elephants on much of the African continent. While overall, poaching has not had the same impact in southern Africa as in other regions it has severely affected some populations.
The challenges of poaching notwithstanding, elephants in southern Africa continue to be found outside protected areas with vast swathes of elephant range found in unprotected areas. This poses additional challenges for wildlife authorities and wildlife managers, as levels of human-elephant conflict continue escalate especially where human and agricultural expansion moves into new areas already occupied by African elephants. Livestock and crop farmers and residents in wildlife areas constantly have to contend with elephants that destroy crops and threaten livelihoods and food security.
To this end the Government of Botswana has found it prudent to organize a Summit to generate a better understanding of elephant management and associated challenges, as well as a series of measures to be undertaken in order to address the challenges more efficiently and effectively with the influence of the KAZA initiative.
The objectives of the Elephant Summit are to:
i. raise awareness on the current status of the African Elephant in the southern African region;
ii. exchange of ideas on human-elephant conflict, illegal and legal trade; and
iii. agree on concrete interventions to address the challenges posed.