The 2015 African Elephant Summit followed up the 2013 Summit which, among other things, announced the launch of the Great Elephant Census and included delegates from 30 countries who adopted 14 urgent conservation measures in the fight against poaching and global wildlife trafficking. Among those measures were zero tolerance approaches to wildlife crime, enhancing wildlife protection capacity for law enforcement, public-awareness programs, securing seized ivory stockpiles, improving monitoring of African elephant populations, elephant death data, strengthening cooperation among law-enforcement agencies and strengthening existing or implementing new legislation to increase the classification of wildlife trafficking to a "serious crime." This follow-up summit reviewed efforts and discussed future measures to protect the species from probable extinction.
The Great Elephant Census team joined the delegates at a time when the situation for elephants is growing increasingly perilous; in the 15 days leading up to the Summit, 30 elephants were found poached in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Garamba is one of the elephant population habitats that has been surveyed by the Great Elephant Census teams, and the park's elephants will be included in the final data. Wildlife trafficking in elephant ivory continues to be the greatest threat to elephant populations and is directly connected to larger criminal organizations and terrorism.
Below is the text of an address given by Dune Ives, Vulcan Philanthropy's Senior Director of Philanthropic Initiatives and co-manager of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, to the delegates at the African Elephant Summit.
The data collection, analysis and validation is a meticulous process, and the results of the Census will fill sizable information gaps that will allow governments and conservationists alike to create meaningful strategies to protect elephants for future generations. Summits like these assist in cultivating a collaborative spirit and help all parties involved coordinate holistic approaches to conservation that benefits elephants as well as their human neighbors.