Botswana to host the second Giants Club Summit


Emma Ledger, The Independent

Date Published
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The future of elephants received a massive boost as Botswana announced it would host the second Giants Club summit.

The event, to be staged in the country in March 2018, will bring together Heads of State, leading businessmen, conservationists and philanthropists to address the major, long-term challenges facing African elephants.

It follows the first Giants Club Summit held in Kenya last year, which saw President Uhuru Kenyatta convene Africa’s largest ever conservation conference. The event was followed by the burning of Kenya’s ivory stock, which led news bulletins around the world.

The 2018 summit will be hosted by Botswana’s president, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, and be in partnership with the Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Giants Club’s implementation charity Space for Giants.

Among those attending will be Evgeny Lebedev, the Giants Club patron and the owner of The Independent and the London Evening Standard newspaper.

Announcing the event in Botswana’s capital Gaborone this week, Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Minister for Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, and a board member of the Tlhokomela Trust, said: “What makes the Giants Club Summit different from a lot of other conferences we’ve seen to beat poaching or protect wildlife is that it delivers.

“With the Giants Club we believe that we’re now on the right path to go to exactly where we want to be, which is the preservation and the continued protection of endangered wildlife. This is urgent work, and it needs this kind of immediate action. I’m certain that we will go much further with a raft of new interventions that will flow from the Giants Club Summit 2018.”

Botswana, through the Tlhokomela Trust, is one of the founding members of the Giants Club along with Kenya, Gabon and Uganda. Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, said: “One African elephant lost to poaching is one too many, so the fact that dozens are still lost every day means we are very far indeed from calling the poaching crisis over.

”Elephants face multiplying problems: where do elephants survive if their habitat is shrinking? How can nations develop while conserving natural resources? Must more people mean fewer wild animals?

“Finding the best answers to those knotty problems will not be achieved by governments alone, or scientists alone, or by celebrities or philanthropists or businesses alone. It will be done by all of those people working together, and that’s the unique forum the Giants Club offers. Space for Giants is honoured that Botswana has agreed to host the Giants Club Summit 2018.”

Close to 100 elephants were being killed every day at the peak of the recent poaching crisis.

The Giants Club’s successes since the last summit include boosting intelligence-led anti-poaching capacity in Botswana, building electrified fences to keep elephants and farmers safe from each other in Kenya and Gabon, and driving new international investment in conservation in Uganda.

The 2018 summit will be staged in the final month of President Khama’s time in office. During his presidency, he has led the way in demonstrating how an African state can combine economic progress with successful and sustained commitments to conservation. It is also intended that the Summit will also act as a worthy international tribute to his achievements.