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Hwange declaration on the conservation of the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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WE, the Ministers responsible for Environment, Wildlife and Tourism in Key African Elephant Range States have gathered in Hwange, Zimbabwe, on the 26th of May 2022, together with local and international organisations, major groups, communities and stakeholders at the African Elephant Conference, to forge a “new and better deal for elephant conservation, tourism and rural communities in key African Range States”, 

AFFIRMING the objectives of the African Union to achieve greater unity and solidarity in Africa and promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest as enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union;

RECALLING the three main goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity;

AFFIRMING that Member States have the sovereign right to manage their wildlife resources and the corresponding responsibility to sustainably use and conserve these resources;

AWARE that the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife contribute to sustainable economic development and the conservation of biological diversity;

CONVINCED that the viability of wildlife resources in Africa requires collective and co-operative action by all key African Range States;

CONSCIOUS of the fact that wildlife and other natural resources are better managed by involving communities and indigenous peoples at all levels of decision making;

RECOGNISING that the survival of wildlife depends on the perceptions and development needs of people living with wildlife;

CONVINCED that the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife depend on the proper management and utilisation of wildlife, including enforcement of laws governing such use;

BELIEVING that the regional management of the African Elephant will promote awareness of the socio-economic value of wildlife and enable equitable distribution of the benefits derived from the sustainable use of wildlife;

FURTHER AFFIRMING our commitment to the transboundary management of the African Elephant and endeavoring to increase the area under sustainable wildlife management;

DETERMINED to take all necessary measures to strengthen our wildlife institutions and provide them with the necessary resources to enable them discharge their respective mandates effectively;

FURTHER DETERMINED to take all necessary measures to protect the status of the African Elephant and prevent illegal trade; and

COGNISANT of the various international restrictions being imposed by various international organisations and States on sustainable trade in wildlife and wildlife products

Develop functional Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) policies and legislation that allow communities to receive benefits that outweigh the costs of management

COMMITTED to the facilitation of legally based participation in the management of wildlife including access, benefit and sharing mechanisms for communities living alongside wildlife resources

We therefore commit to working collectively to:

  1. reaffirmour commitment to the principle of sustainable use;
  2. generate revenue through sale of wildlife products by developing a viable instrument which will enable our countries to sell ivory stockpiles to raise funds for conservation;
  3. leverage TFCAs as strategies and approaches for coordinated trans-boundary management for conservation of contiguous elephant populations on the continent. 
  4. develop innovative mechanisms for resourcing existing trust funds for promoting biodiversity and allocate resources for social ecological research in wildlife management;
  5. reduce illegal offtake and trade through enhanced enforcement;
  6. adopt sustainable elephant management strategies in reducing Human Elephant Conflicts  
  7. prepare and publish an accurate information document for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Member States on the cost of living with wildlife;
  8. make a clarion call for CITES not to interfere with domestic trade, the sovereignty of states, and their rights to sustainable use of wildlife 
  9. affirm the recognition of the two different elephant sub-species (Savannah and Forest elephants) at the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP19);
  10. advocate for decisions to be made based on elephant numbers in each country or region to curb the prevailing practice where decisions are influenced by non-affected nations;
  11. lobby through diplomatic channels to ensure that the current gaps in communication on topical wildlife issues are closed;
  12. reflect and introspect on the founding ideals of CITES to shared commitment to dialogue, equity, inclusiveness and transparency 

We urge all African States to join and forge a “new and better deal for elephant conservation, tourism and rural communities in key African Range States” by endorsing and committing to this declaration.

Current Endorsements

  1. Republic of Zimbabwe
  2. Republic of Tanzania
  3. Republic of Botswana
  4. Republic of Namibia
  5. Republic of Zambia

_________ End _________

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