The Republic of Congo, which now occupies the 11th position in Africa, has confirmed that it will join the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), a conservation program led by Africa to eradicate the trade in ivory and stop rampant killing of elephants on the continent by poachers.
The commitment of Congo was announced on 14 January by the Congolese delegation to the 66th session of the Standing Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora Endangered Committee (CITES), held in Geneva Switzerland. “Congo is the stronghold of one of the largest populations of forest elephants, and works hard to ensure their protection through a number of initiatives, including the creation of new protected areas, improving the protection of wildlife in production landscapes, such as forest concessions and the development of a national anti-poaching strategy,” said Roger Mbete, director of wildlife and protected areas. “We hope to be able to protect elephants and their forest habitat and livelihoods of people who depend on these forests,” he added.
According to the latest census conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Central Africa has lost 65 percent of its forest elephants in 2002 and 2012. In this part of Africa, elephants are slaughtered for their ivory at a rate of 9 percent per year. “For years, Congo has shown real leadership in the field of conservation, protection of elephants and other wildlife, in innovative business models, in Nouabalé- Ndoki and Odzala National Parks Kokoua. By joining the elephant protection initiative, the country has underlined its commitment to take concerted action to protect elephants, and WCS is honored to work with the government to support these efforts,” said the program director of WCS Congo Mark Gately.
Congo Has Shown Its Good Will
For the CEO of Stop Ivoire, Alexander Rhodes, the statement of the Congo during the meeting of the Standing Committee of CITES is extremely important. “This results in the destruction by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of ivory stocks in the country last year and supports the development of its action plan for the national elephant to secure a future for elephants and communities free from the threat of ivory poaching.”
It was after describing the extent and consequences of the phenomenon of poaching at the opening of the conference that the Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby Itno, set fire to a sample a fraudulent stock of five tonnes of ivory tusks. The action has been welcomed by environmentalists.
Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and conservation, through Sir David Richmond, CEO, welcomes the announcement by the Congo to join the Elephant Welfare Initiative, and supports efforts to end the trade in ivory. It urges all governments to “take back the initiative on the protection of elephants.” In the process, Hong Kong, considered a hub of contraband ivory, immediately announced that it intends to ban imports and exports. In his policy speech, the head of the Hong Kong government, CY Leung, told MEPs that his team was determined to eradicate the trade in ivory in Hong Kong.