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Celebrating a Decade: Highlights from the EPI's 10th Anniversary Event

Picture of all the attendees of the EPI's 10th anniversary event


The Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) celebrated its 10th anniversary this month at a special event in Nairobi, Kenya. Speaking to an extraordinary and joyous gathering of political leaders, wildlife officials and conservationists from more than 20 African countries, the incoming chairperson of the EPI’s Leadership Council, Hon Sharon Ikeazor, said; 'All of us involved in conservation know that we don’t often get to tell good news stories.  But when they do come along, we must cherish them, and I believe that the EPI is a good news story.’


EPI 10th anniversary video, highlighting some of our national focal points, and the communities we have impacted.


The EPI was formed in 2014 by the presidents of Botswana, Chad, Gabon and Tanzania, and the foreign minister of Ethiopia. Since then, it has grown rapidly, and now comprises 24 countries, united in their desire to protect elephants and build a better future for their people. 


The passing of a decade gives us a chance to take stock. In 2014, Africa was in the grip of the elephant poaching crisis. Some 100,000 elephants were illegally killed for their ivory in just a three year period. Today, poaching continues in some areas, but has declined significantly in many others, and some key elephant populations are stable or even increasing. In a video address screened at the event, His Royal Highness Prince William, the Prince of Wales said  ‘There is no doubt that we are in a better place than we were 10 years ago.’


HRH Prince William, Prince of Wales, sends a message of congratulations to the EPI on its 10th anniversary.


In our comprehensive report, ‘Ivory and Beyond, A Decade of Progress’, we analyse to what extent the EPI has helped achieve this turnaround. In 2014 member states committed themselves to maintaining the existing moratorium on the international ivory trade, closing domestic ivory markets and securing stockpiles. They thereby intended to disrupt the ivory supply chain, causing a fall in demand and prices and, consequently, a reduction in poaching.

 

That was the theory. But has it worked in practice? We argue that ‘yes’, it has, although increased public awareness and better law enforcement have also been essential in turning the tide, which is a viewpoint echoed in the recently released UN World Wildlife Crime Report of 2024. Do take a look at our report, as we crunch the numbers and data of ivory prices and seizures, and elephant carcass counts.

 

In the Report you’ll also learn about the extraordinary work the EPI’s secretariat, the EPI Foundation, has carried out helping to secure ivory stockpiles in 15 countries across the continent, training more than 1,000 government officials in the process.


Picture of the EPI's 10-Year Report 2024

 

Although we had much to celebrate in Nairobi, there was no sense of complacency. The threat of ivory poaching has not gone away. And wildlife officials from across the continent warned of growing popular frustration because of human-elephant conflict (HEC), as well as the impact of climate change and inadequate financing for elephant conservation, which was the focus of a two day workshop jointly hosted by the EPI Foundation and The World Bank Global Wildlife Programme that immediately preceded the anniversary celebration.

 

The EPI Foundation will continue to support the EPI member states as they grapple with these challenges. But, ultimately, the EPI’s unique strength is that it is an African-led initiative. As Sharon Ikeazor said, ‘It is all about Africa taking responsibility, and leadership, for its own environmental challenges.’


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