Inputs for an EU strategic approach to wildlife conservation in Africa : regional analysis
The European Union’s first wildlife conservation intervention in Africa took place 30 years ago, helping to improve the management of Pendjari National Park in Benin. Since then the EU has supported dozens of conservation projects and programmes all over the continent, with a particular focus on Central Africa. Other donors are also committed to protecting Africa’s biodiversity. Despite these efforts, protecting African flora and fauna remains a huge challenge: in recent years Africa has been losing wildlife at an alarming rate. Among many others, iconic species such as elephant and rhino have... been decimated by poachers, who are often backed by international criminal networks trading illegal wildlife products in the same way arms, drugs or people are traded. Politicians and environmental groups across Africa and the world are searching for new ways to tackle the problem and limit its devastating effects. Wildlife conservation is a global issue as well as a local and national one. As the title of this document suggests, the problem is ‘larger than elephants’. Increasing pressure on land and natural resources, such as bushmeat and firewood, are leading to habitat loss and the irreversible degradation of entire ecosystems; many communities are exhausting the resources that guarantee their present and future livelihoods. Wildlife conservation is as much about people as it is about plants and animals. The EU’s Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) initiative combines increased resources with a strategic approach based on coherence, coordination and cross-sector partnerships to tackle the twin problems of protecting biodiversity and building sustainable livelihoods. Larger than elephants is a prime example of B4Life’s ‘joined-up’ and concerted approach: it documents a major initiative of the European Commission on African wildlife with contributions and validation from a wide range of specialised organisations and high-level specialists. The study confirms that wildlife traffickers are using global networks, but increasingly so too are those who intend to stop them. The document has received the support of all major actors in the conservation community and its findings will inform EU policy in Africa, including action against wildlife trafficking. It is with great pleasure that I present this publication, which showcases the importance that the European Commission attaches to African wildlife and African ecosystems. The wealth of Africa’s population is largely dependent on its wildlife; safeguarding it must remain a central element in our united efforts to reduce poverty.