Uganda’s President Museveni launches first Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum

Responsible international businesses given a unique opportunity to bring economic and ecological benefits to Uganda’s protected areas

Global businesses focused on tourism and conservation will be offered a unique opportunity to invest in Uganda’s unparalleled natural landscapes while bringing greater benefits to citizens, H.E. President Yoweri Museveni announced today.

President Museveni will host the first Giants Club Uganda Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum, in October, to invite responsible private sector investment to maximise the economic benefits from Uganda’s protected areas.

“This announcement today is an important step in our commitment to unlocking the new and innovative investment models needed to effectively protect our most beautiful landscapes and wildlife for the benefit of the Ugandan people,” President Museveni said as he announced the Forum at an event today at State House, Entebbe.

“The Forum is aimed at launching a new initiative to attract tourism into Uganda, make it a destination for high-end paying clients, and secure long-term sources of funding for the protection and maintenance of Uganda’s Protected Area network.

“By inviting conservation-motivated investors to help build a ‘nature-based economy’, we will rehabilitate and manage Uganda’s network of Protected Areas while delivering economic growth.”

The Giants Club Conservation and Investment Forum will provide a platform to bring more of those investors into Uganda, whose business will not only drive economic benefits but ecological ones, too.

The Giants Club and its partners, the African Wildlife Foundation and UNDP, are working with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to see which of the country’s 3.1 million hectares of protected areas might suit new international investment, for example new safari lodges, or tourism activities, or support services.

The Forum, at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa on October 6 with site visits to conservation areas the two days before, will present the best of those opportunities to interested companies who will bring responsible, sustained commercial partnerships. Their investment will help preserve and manage Uganda’s protected areas.

Key to the Forum’s approach is to create an enabling investment framework and a transparent ‘investors pathway’, to simplify the steps needed to take to launch new business operations under the initiative.

Among those expected to attend are Tourism Operators, Commercial and Impact Investors, Philanthropic and Conservation Organisations, Development Finance Institutions, High Net Worth Individuals, and Sector Specialists and Journalists.

President Museveni called for ideas of how to increase public-private partnerships to fund Uganda’s conservation when he attended the Giants Club Summit in Kenya in 2016. The Forum is the answer to that request.

The Giants Club, of which President Museveni is one of four founding Presidents, gathers African heads of state, global financiers, scientists, and influential individuals, to help achieve its mission to protect half of Africa’s elephants by 2020.

“It’s understandable that in the present economic climate, governments must prioritise where they spend their money, and conservation may not be top of the list,” said Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, the international conservation organisation behind the Giants Club.

“But it’s also true that there are legions of companies, development funds and conservationists in Africa and around the world who are very keen to take up that slack, to fund conservation of wilderness areas in ways that also build their businesses.

“The Forum, uniquely, helps to bring these two sides together, the investors and the authorities, in a way that will drive economic, social, and environmental benefits to the people and wildlife of Uganda. It’s a really, really smart idea and one that I am proud Space for Giants is supporting.”

Kaddu Sebunya, the African Wildlife Foundation’s President, said his organisation was “excited to be partnering with the Giants Club on this important initiative”.

“Uganda is blessed with some of the world’s most important wildlife and wildlands; however, the country needs resources to ensure their long-term conservation and adequate management,” he said.

“That is why AWF is keen to be working with partners in optimising the commercial opportunities in Uganda’s protected areas and to catalyse effective partnerships.”

Following the Forum, a series of events will be staged across world to widen the reach of the initiative by showcasing Uganda’s conservation investment opportunities. These will highlight the new investment framework, and convey how potential investors can work with conservationists to protect the country’s ecosystems.

In addition, plans for a new Investment Fund will be announced to promote the development of Uganda’s Conservation Estate.

ENDS

For more information, please contact

Denis Galava, African Wildlife Foundation, +254 720 947612, dgalava@awf.org

Mike Pflanz, for Space for Giants, +254 735 446226, mikepflanz@gmail.com

PROJECT PARTNERS

The Giants Club is an initiative founded by the conservation organisation Space for Giants to unite visionary African leaders of elephant-range states, enlightened heads of major businesses, global philanthropists, key influencers and leading wildlife-protection experts to provide the political will, financial muscle, global influence and technical capacity to look after Africa’s remaining elephants and the landscapes they depend on. The Giants Club states – Uganda, Kenya, Botswana and Gabon – are home to more than half of Africa’s savannah elephants and three quarters of its forest elephants. These elephant populations and their habitats represent a priceless natural heritage to their host countries.

Space for Giants protects Africa’s elephants from immediate threats like poaching while working to secure their habitats forever in landscapes facing greatly-increasing pressures. Everywhere it works, in Kenya, Gabon, Uganda, and Botswana, Space for Giants uses science and best-practice to develop and deliver anti-poaching initiatives, secure protected landscapes for elephants, work to lessen the problems that arise where people and elephants live alongside each other, and provide conservation training and education.

United Nations Development Fund, UNDP, is the United Nations’ global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It provides expert advice, training and grants to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries. The organisation operates in 177 countries, where it works with local governments to meet development challenges and develop local capacity. UNDP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from member nations.

The African Wildlife Foundation, founded in 1961 as the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, is an international conservation organisation that focuses on critically important landscapes in Africa. Its programmes and conservation strategies are designed to protect the wildlife and wild lands of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, the organisation has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is one of the governing bodies that regulate wildlife conservation in Uganda. It manages 10 national parks, 12 wildlife reserves, and 14 wildlife sanctuaries. UWA also provides guidance for five community wildlife areas. UWA’s mission is to conserve, economically develop, and manage sustainably the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda in partnership with neighbouring communities and stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community.

Ugandan Tourist Board (UTB) is mandated to promote and popularise Uganda as a holiday destination, both locally and internationally. It focuses on increasing the contribution of tourism earnings, improve Uganda’s competitiveness as an international tourism destination and boost Uganda’s share of Africa’s and World tourism market. There has been increased investment in tourism, particularly in travel accommodation and related facilities, to enhance tourists’ experience in the country.

 

Botswana will host Giants Club Summit 2018

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.

 

UGANDA’S COURTROOM RANGERS

 

ElephantsA NEW COLLABORATION IS LAUNCHED TO TRAIN UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY OFFICERS TO TACKLE POACHERS IN THE COURTROOM

LONDON, UK (9th November 2016) – Wildlife officers in Uganda are to receive professional legal training on how to prosecute poachers and punish those involved in the illegal wildlife trade through the country’s courts.

Space for Giants has partnered with the Uganda Conservation Foundation and Tusk Trust to enable eight Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officers to undertake a range of undergraduate and postgraduate legal qualifications.

This will improve the capacity of UWA’s in-house prosecution office and allow it to supply a lawyer to every one of the country’s protected conservation areas.

“The law is such an effective tool in tackling the illegal wildlife trade, and these rangers will be developing vital professional skills to help them do so,” Anne-Marie Weeden, General Manager of Uganda Conservation Foundation, said.

“We’re delighted to be part of this collaborative effort to support the development of the UWA legal team.”

Five officers from UWA have been selected by the UWA legal department to study for their Law Diploma at the Law Development Centre in Kampala. The course commenced in September and lasts for one year. Once they have graduated, the officers will be given delegated prosecutorial powers, increasing the size of the prosecution unit for UWA from 10 to 15.

A further three UWA rangers already working in the legal department, will attain higher professional qualifications in a Bachelors of Law, a Masters of Law and a postgraduate bar diploma respectively.

The scholarships are supported by the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) and Tusk Trust on their joint project countering wildlife crime in Uganda, funded by the UK Government through the IWT Challenge Fund. Space for Giants initiated the selection of UWA candidates and will assist UWA and UCF by mentoring the selected candidates over the coming year.

“This support to UWA affirms the commitment of Space for Giants and its partners to the strengthening of the criminal justice framework that addresses prosecutions in Uganda,” said Shamini Jayanathan, Space for Giant’s Director of Wildlife Protection.

“UWA prosecutors are able to prosecute under all laws of Uganda, not just wildlife specific statutes, thus enabling the UWA to support the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the fight against wildlife crime.”

The collaboration builds on the work already underway in Uganda by Space for Giants, supported by ICCF and Stop Ivory, to develop an anti-illegal wildlife trade prosecution toolkit for use by the local judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, UWA and the Ministry of Tourism.

Together the two projects will enable Uganda’s prosecution bodies to bring stronger prosecutions to court, and thereby more effectively secure convictions of those involved in trafficking of Uganda’s natural heritage.

The partnership is the latest in a series of conservation projects that follows the Giants Club summit convened by Space for Giants and hosted by the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, in April. The goal of the Giants Club is to effectively protect some 200,000 elephants – 50% of the continental total – by 2020.

With Gabon, the Giants Club’s other member states are Kenya, Botswana and Uganda. Together these countries are home to almost half remaining savannah elephants and some 70 per cent of the forest elephant.

Projects so far implemented include the commencement of work to construct specialist fences to mitigate human-elephant conflict in Gabon and Kenya, as well as anti-poacher initiatives in Botswana.

PRESS RELEASE: GABON LAUNCHES ELEPHANT FENCES

PRESIDENT ALI BONGO OF GABON LAUNCHES HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICT MITIGATION STRATEGY AS PART OF THE PAN-AFRICAN ‘GIANTS CLUB’

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LIBREVILLE, GABON (9 August 2016) – The President of Gabon, one of the founding members of the Giants Club conservation initiative, today demonstrated his commitment to his people and conservationists globally by officially launching the first elephant fence in Gabon.

Human elephant conflict is a daily reality across Gabon where people and elephants live side-by-side in many locations, resulting in economic losses to farmers and retaliatory killings towards elephants.

Elephants are capable of destroying entire livelihoods in a single night. The construction of the electric fence will protect several hundred farmers and significantly reduce damages caused by elephants in the region, thereby boosting local support for their protection.

Announcing the start of work on building the project, President Bongo said: “Here in Gabon we are lucky to live amid some of the most beautiful forests on the planet and to share our country with one of the world’s most special creatures: the forest elephant. Yet in Gabon we also have some of the hardest working farmers who help produce the food for our tables.

“This fence is an important step in protecting their livelihoods, while also helping protect our elephants from leaving their natural habitats. I am delighted work has now begun on this fence and I would like to thank the Giants Club, and its implementation charity Space for Giants, for the assistance they are providing our wildlife service in delivering this project for the Gabonese people.”

The launch of the 50km fence project, which the Giants Club has helped finance to USD 200,000, comes just three months after the inaugural Giants Club Summit hosted in Nanyuki, Kenya attended by African presidents, philanthropists and conservation experts from around the globe. The goal of the Giants Club is to effectively protect some 200,000 elephants – 50% of the continental total – by 2020.

Supporting the launch of the project are Professor Lee White, Director of the Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, and Dr Max Graham, the CEO of Space for Giants, the Giants Club’s implementation charity.

Prof White said: “Today the President, with support from the ANPN and Space for Giants, has made a clear statement of intent to secure our people’s livelihoods and preserve our natural heritage for future generations. We look forward to scaling up and delivering a comprehensive human elephant conflict mitigation strategy in the months to come.”

Dr Graham said: “Gabon is home to the vast majority of forest elephants remaining on this great continent and it is here where the future of the species will be decided. The implementation of this human elephant conflict mitigation strategy is critical to ensure that people and elephants can live together for generations to come. We are delighted by this show of commitment by one of the founding members of the Giants Club.”

Short electric fences (3 foot tall), with electrified protruding arms (outriggers) conducting charges in excess of 7000 volts have proven the most effective at keeping elephants at bay in Giants Club-supported projects in Kenya and the fences in Gabon will mirror this sophisticated elephant-proof design. This initial pilot fence will take approximately four months to construct and will use over 10,000 poles and 400km of electrified wire.

Along with the construction of elephant-proof fences, President Bongo announced at the Giants Club Summit in April that the ANPN would double its staff capacity from 750 to 1,500 greatly increasing their impact on the ground. Frontline protection and judicial interventions initiatives to boost the ranger network on the ground and support the criminal justice pathway in courts will also be delivered in the coming months.

The Giants Club is supported by ESI Media, the UK-based media group that owns the London Evening Standard newspaper and The Independent digital sites. ESI Media’s owner, Evgeny Lebedev, is patron of the Club and also of Space for Giants.

With Gabon, the Club’s other member states are Kenya, Botswana and Uganda. Together these countries are home to almost half remaining savannah elephants and some 70 per cent of the forest elephant.

 

CONTACTS:

Dr Max Graham, Space for Giants: +254 722 485 584, max@spaceforgiants.org

Prof Lee White, Gabonese Parks: +241 07840063, lwhite@parcsgarbon.ga

Pictures available on request from Alex Dymoke, Independent: +447874997903, alex.dymoke@independent.co.uk

 

Space for Giants is an international conservation charity, with more than a decade of experience in the conservation and management of African elephants and the landscapes they depend on. Space for Giants provides frontline protection for African elephants in the wild; works to secure space for elephants; mitigates human-wildlife conflict; trains conservationists; and raises inter-national awareness of the threats facing elephants today. The Giants Club is its new pan-Africa wildlife initiative. Visit www.spaceforgiants.org for more information.

Human elephant conflict (HEC) refers to any human-elephant interaction, which results in negative effects on human life (social, economic or cultural), on elephant conservation or on the environment. HEC occurs wherever people and elephants are forced to share space and is characterized by crop destruction, property damage and/or death of people and elephants. Electric fences of the correct design that produce high voltages are increasingly seen as the most effective way of excluding elephants from areas of human habitation at a landscape level.

Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux is the arm of the Gabonese government entrusted with the management of 13 national parks covering approximately 11% of the country’s surface. ANPN’s mission is to ensure the long-term protection and enhancement of Gabon’s parks in order to create a conservation model recognized worldwide. The ANPN is responsible for implementing the government’s policy on national parks and is directly supervised by the Presidency of the Republic.

ESI Media is the commercial division of the London Evening Standard, The Independent, London Live and their many digital platforms. ESI Media has a monthly cross platform reach of 20.8 million adults. The London Evening Standard is read by more than 1.9 million Londoners every day, and The Independent digital sites monthly reach 50 million unique users. Visit www.esimedia.co.uk for more information.

Hopes and fears for Africa’s elephants

Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton CBE, founder and CEO of Save the Elephants, talks about his hopes and fears for Africa’s elephants at the Giants Club Summit 2016.

 

How a four-foot-high fence can help save Africa’s elephants from a threat worse than poaching

KINAMBA, June 16, 2016 – Construction has begun of a simple low-level electrified fence pulsing 7,000 volts along its 163km length that conservationists calculate is the best defence against a crisis threatening Kenya’s elephants that is worse than poaching.

Poor small-holder farmers in the country’s central Laikipia area are losing more than $1 million a   year from elephants searching for food that roam into agricultural fields where in a single night of ‘crop raiding’ they can destroy entire harvests.

The Laikipia Plateau has Kenya’s second-highest density of elephants, with more than 6,300 individuals sharing 10,000 fertile square kilometres with an increasing human population needing ever more land to farm.

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