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PRESS RELEASE: “The job’s not done, not by a long shot”

Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Botswana's Minister for Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation, and Tourism, announces the Giants Club Summit 2018
Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Minister for Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation, and Tourism, announces the Giants Club Summit 2018

Threats to Africa’s elephants grow despite momentum against poaching, Space for Giants says as Botswana announces it will host Giants Club Summit 2018

GABORONE, 22 May 2017 – Welcome developments in the battle against ivory poaching risk distracting attention from massing threats to Africa’s elephants, Space for Giants warned today as it announced a major international summit to redouble efforts to protect the species and the space it needs to survive.

As many as 96 elephants a day were being illegally killed for their ivory but fiercer laws, better frontline protection, and significant drops in the price of tusks in China, the main market, have raised hopes that poaching has dropped from peaks seen earlier this decade.

Fundamental threats to the world’s largest land mammal remain, however. Poaching is still a huge problem. Pressures on elephant habitats are surging as human populations grow and more land is needed for farming and infrastructure development. Greater efforts to make sure that elephants and other wildlife are valued by the communities that host them are critical to the species’ survival.

Addressing these major, long-term, complicated challenges will be the key focus of the Giants Club Summit 2018, which the Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife Trust and Space for Giants announced today would be held in Kasane in Botswana from 15-17 March 2018.

The Giants Club is a high-level global forum uniting visionary African political leaders with conservation science, philanthropic finance, and individuals with worldwide influence, who have together pledged to safeguard at least half of Africa’s remaining elephants by 2020.

His Excellency Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Botswana’s President, will host the Summit with the Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife Trust, which represents Botswana on the Giants Club.

It is expected that Heads of State, directors of global conservation and bilateral organisations, chairs and chief executive officers of international corporations, visionary philanthropists, and stars of sports, music, and cinema, will be invited to attend.

Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Minister for Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, and a board member of the Tlhokomela Trust, said: “What’s 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. We have been associated with the Giants Club for 18 months and already we have seen tangible results.

“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. We have seen progress since the inaugural summit and I’m certain that we will go much further with a raft of new interventions that will flow from the Giants Club Summit 2018.”

The Summit will take the same pioneering approach to designing and funding conservation interventions first seen at the 2016 event. Scientists lay out the best new approaches to deal with the myriad issues endangered African wildlife faces. Political leaders then confirm which activities they will bring to their countries, and call upon the assembled financiers and philanthropists for funding. Key influencers then build international buzz, and the media spreads the word.

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Space for Giants CEO Max Graham talks with Botswana media

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.

“At the same time, 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.”

The Giants Club Summit 2018 has four initial objectives:

  • It will be held soon after China enacts its domestic ivory trade ban, and will recognise the great distinction of that step and help drive new partnerships between China and Africa that ensure natural ecosystems flourish
  • It will work to secure Africa’s largest single remaining contiguous elephant population, which straddles the borders of five countries
  • It will engage global enterprise to show how investing in conservation is good for corporate social responsibility and good for business in increasingly discerning global markets
  • It will review progress made since the 2016 summit and set transparent goals to be achieved before the next event

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 Directors of Public Prosecutions in Botswana, Uganda and Kenya, working with Space for Giants following Giants Club pledges made at the 2016 summit, have developed new prosecution standards in criminal cases and created new wildlife prosecution toolkits. These are designed to ensure legal action against wildlife crimes have the greatest chance of successful outcomes.

The Giants Club Summit 2018 will be staged in the final month of President Khama’s time in office. During his presidency, President Khama has led the way in demonstrating how an African state can combine economic progress with successful and sustained commitments to conservation. The Summit will stand as a worthy international tribute to his achievements and to celebrating his legacy, not only for Botswana but for all of Africa.