, NANYUKI, Kenya, Apr 29 – The inaugural Giants Club Summit kicked off as scheduled on Friday with President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Ali Bongo in attendance where they were expected to make declarations on specific steps their governments plan to take in efforts to keep the elephant from extinction.
The summit which was attended by several high ranking representatives of the United Nations and conservationists kicked off with panel discussions on the front line protection of elephants and sealing of legal loopholes in the prosecution of poachers.
Those involved in on-ground patrols and who encounter poachers gave testimony of their experiences out in the field and shared the strategies they’ve found most effective.
Ian Craig of the Northern Rangelands Trust for instance spoke on the importance of involving communities in the protection of elephants from poachers.
In Lewa for example, he said, “we’ve found community policing, so to speak, works best because they become as protective of the elephants as they are of their cattle and are less likely to protect those among them involved in the illegal trade in ivory.”
And for this to work, Ivan Koreta of the Uganda Conservation Foundation testified, the giants had to be kept from interfering with the livelihoods, read crops, of surrounding communities.
In an interview with Capital FM News, Space for Giants founder Dr Max Graham made the case for the erection of fences where elephants were notorious for causing this sort of damage.
“There’s a 163kms of fence in Central Kenya that would have a massive impact on people’s livelihoods if it was put up.”
Rian Labuschagne, Director of Zakouma National Park in Chad, said he also found it important to acknowledge the important role played by rangers. “This way you find they become personally invested in the conservation work and in the event of a regrettable demise I’ve had son or cousin step in and ask if they can take that job to continue.”
The conservationists also lobbied for a greater sharing of intelligence across borders for the purpose of identifying and putting behind bars the kingpins of poaching syndicates behind bars. “They don’t respect borders so why should we? We need to work towards cutting the head off the snake because the tail of small fish will always grow back.”