Nigeria Joins Elephant Protection Initiative
The Federal Republic of Nigeria has formally joined the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), a coalition of African countries dedicated to sustainable conservation of elephants and ending of ivory trade.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril while speaking lately in London at the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference said that it is the duty of the African society to save what it has inherited from parents and grandparents. He also indicated that it is the responsibility of humans to protect species that are endangered. According to him, Nigeria is committed and will continue to partner with other African countries and the world at large to ensure that the intentions of the EPI are carried out at the highest level.
Delivering his remarks at the occasion, John Stephenson of the EPI Secretariat expressed delight in welcoming Nigeria as the 19th member state to the EPI. He inferred that as an African-led initiative, it is important for the forum to have a true giant of the continent on board. Adding, the group held warm and productive talks with the Nigerian delegation in London, and looks forward to working with the Nigerian Government on ways of shutting down internal ivory markets and developing a National Elephant Action Plan (NEAP).
John Stephenson explained that the EPI was founded in 2014 by the leaders of Chad, Gabon, Ethiopia, Botswana and Tanzania, noting that EPI countries are committed to shutting down internal ivory markets, putting national ivory stockpiles beyond economic use, maintaining the international moratorium on the trade in ivory and developing National Elephant Action Plans. He further informed that these long-term plans intended to conserve elephants and benefit the human communities who live alongside them, are designed to be compatible with the African Elephant Action Plan, which was signed by all African elephant range states in 2010.
“The EPI held its inaugural Consultative Group Meeting in London during the IWT Conference. It was chaired by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and attended by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana as well as ministerial delegations from several EPI countries, including Nigeria,” he recalled.
“Donor Governments, including the UK and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, UNDP and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) were also present. Seven EPI countries: Chad, Gabon, Angola, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya presented completed NEAPs, requiring some 268 million USD over the next three years.”
In his view, Africa’s elephant population has fallen dramatically in recent decades with an estimated 55 African elephants killed every day, mostly by ivory poachers. He espoused belief that there are just over 400,000 elephants presently surviving in the Sub-Saharan Africa, compared with 1.3 million in 1979, insisting that Nigeria has only a few hundred surviving elephants.
Stephenson further disclosed that the largest herd is in the Yankari National Park, with smaller relict populations in the forests of Southern Nigeria and the savannah of Northern Nigeria. He reverred that working together with the Nigerian Government will ensure the conservation of Nigeria’s elephants and prevent smuggling through Nigeria of ivory largely originating from neighbouring states.