Somalia joins Africa-led initiative to protect elephants


Xinhua / Global Times

Date Published

Somalia on Wednesday signed to join The Elephant Protection Initiative
(EPI), an African-led program aimed at ending ivory trade.

Minister for Livestock and Pasture, Said Hussein Iid, said Somalia’s
rich environmental history had for long been overshadowed by the
long-drawn civil war.

“However, it is our hope that by joining the EPI, we can work to
slowly rebuild this history and join together with other African
nations to stop the harrowing consequences that elephant poaching and
trafficking is bringing to our continent,” Hussein said in Nairobi,

According to a statement from UK-based conservation group Stop Ivory
issued in Nairobi, Somalia which was once known as a place of rich
biodiversity became the 14th African nation to sign on to the EPI
since its inception in 2014.

Stop Ivory CEO John Stephenson said: “It is crunch time for Africa’s
elephants and without a stop to the poaching, killing, trafficking and
trade, their populations will continue to fade.”

“Somalia’s joining the EPI also shows the growing strength of Africa’s
voice in taking a stand against illegal wildlife trade and
trafficking,” Stephenson said.

The Horn of Africa nation has seen its wildlife populations decline
rapidly with only small pockets of wildlife roaming freely in some
parts of the country.

Conservationists say constant pressures from overgrazing, charcoal
production, poaching and an open ivory market, coupled with a 20-year
civil war, have created a conservation wilderness in a region that was
once said to host one of Africa’s largest wildlife populations.

Keith Roberts, executive director for wildlife trafficking at the
US-based NGO Conservation International, said the signing of the
initiative was a momentous occasion for the EPI and for Somalia ahead
of the upcoming Johannesburg Conference of the Parties to CITES, a
multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.

“The EPI has come a long way in a short time in preparation for this
event and Somalia joining us recognizes the commitment and attention
that African leaders are giving to ensuring the protection of the
continents’ elephant populations and to putting a stop to the trade
that is fuelling the poaching crisis,” said Roberts.

According to conservationists, international demand for ivory and
rhino horn is fuelling shocking declines in the elephant throughout

In 1979, approximately 1.2 million elephants roamed the continent, but
by 2012 as few as 500,000 African elephants remained in the wild.

Poachers kill an estimated 25,000 African elephants every year with
some evidence suggesting that if poaching and trade persists at this
level, most African elephant populations will disappear in the next

The EPI was launched by leaders from Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon
and Tanzania during the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in
February 2014.

Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Angola, Congo and the Gambia have
since also joined the EPI.