Francophone Africa unites for elephants
West Africa’s elephants have been among the hardest hit by the recent elephant poaching crisis – but there is hope. Over the course of 2017, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea joined the EPI, bringing a united West African voice to those advocating for Africa’s elephant on the global stage.
Elephants are still found in 54 separate ranges in West Africa, 35 in the forest zone and 19 in the savanna and Sahel. However, in the last decade, it is estimated that West Africa has lost more than 90% of its elephant range to a lethal combination of poaching, habitat destruction and protracted civil conflicts. In many cases, diminished elephant herds have been pushed into isolated and vulnerable pockets. Studies show that almost two-thirds of West African elephant herds consist of only around 100 elephants (IUCN 2005).
Commitment to the EPI will see these West African nations working together for elephant conservation, recognising that the scourge of poaching is common to all countries – and solutions, too, must transgress national borders.
Like their fellow EPI member States and their partners, these countries understand that, for long term conservation successes to be felt, it is vital that elephant conservation efforts are linked to overall national development plans and sustainable livelihoods for those who live alongside elephants.