African elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations have declined throughout West Africa as a consequence of hunting and habitat loss and are now found only in small and isolated habitat fragments. Major declines probably occurred well before the turn of the 20th Century and elephant populations have remained at low levels ever since. Many populations have become extremely threatened, with an estimated 90 percent of their range now destroyed.
Considerable work has already been done to identify the most urgent areas of need. Addressing illegal killing is understandably a first order priority for many organisations, as is evidenced by the African Elephant Fund and the African Elephant Fund Steering Committee recommending the funding five of six projects with a focus on illegal hunting and trade. Conservation organisations are also investing significant effort in local capacity building to combat illegal hunting.
However, the long-term survival of African elephants will not be secured if habitat conservation is not also considered. The Strategy for the Conservation of West African Elephants, 2005 emphasized that because so many habitats have already disappeared, it is essential that no more areas are lost and that the remainder are effectively managed. Institutional weaknesses across West Africa exacerbate the problem. Many Government wildlife departments lack the personnel or budget needed to carry out their mandate. Consequently parks and reserves are not effectively protected from poachers and agricultural encroachment, elephant management plans cannot be drawn up or implemented, surveys cannot be conducted and there are no monitoring programmes.
In 2011, the CMS West African Elephant Memorandum of Understanding (West African Elephant MoU) ‘Medium Term Work Programme’ prioritized strengthening cooperation between Range States for the management of transboundary elephant habitats.
During the Convention on Migratory Species 10th Conference of the Parties (CMS CoP10), 2011, Parties recognized that ecological networks of wildlife habitat should be integrated in national environmental planning, including plans currently being developed under the auspices of other Multilateral Environmental Agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs).
Wild Migration Programme Goal
Wild Migration strives for a future where African elephant populations in at least three West African Elephant MoU countries are secured. Habitat loss has been halted, illegal hunting is a thing of the past and conservation activities recognize elephant culture as an important element of conservation design.
Wild Migration Policy Targets
Wild Migration is working to strategically develop region wide institutional capacity to coordinate efforts between the West African Elephant MoU countries with ecological networks of elephant habitat that:
1) meet commitments to CMS, including the CMS Ecological Networks process and CMS' evolving work on culture;
2) contribute to CITES, CBD, FCCC processes;
3) are articulated in NBSAPs and NAPAs; and
4) lay the foundations for regular process of tracking and reporting of progress to the West African Elephant MoU and CMS Parties, to aid the likelihood of future funding.
Wild Migration Projects contact details
RSD 426 Newland Service,
Via Kingscote, 5223, Australia
Phone: +618 8121 5841
Fax: +618 8125 5857