COMMUNIQUE ON THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT CONFERENCE HWANGE SAFARI LODGE, ZIMBABWE 23-26 MAY 2022
1. The Government of Zimbabwe hosted an African Elephant Conference for key elephant range states in Africa at Hwange Safari Lodge from the 23rd to the 26th of May 2022.
2. The Conference was attended by Ministers and senior government officials from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as key non-state actors from the AWF, IFAW, Conservation Force, IUCN AESG, TRAFFIC, WWF, and local wildlife NGOs.
3. The conference aimed to reach a consensus on sustainable elephant management practices that benefit both elephants and local communities
4. The conference emphasized the importance for Africa to speak with a unified voice in international fora. Therefore, a mechanism for lobbying on common issues must be established.
5. The conference noted that while the regional African elephant population is declining, the number of elephants in southern Africa is increasing, demonstrating good conservation practices that ought to be recognised and provide lessons learnt for other countries to emulate. Hence countries with high elephant populations must be heard and listened to, and must benefit from their efforts in conserving their elephants.
6. The conference concurred that the voices of communities that co-exist with wildlife must be included in decision-making because they bear the brunt of living with wildlife.
7. The conference agreed that there is a need for long-term funding for wildlife conservation from a variety of sources including but not limited to wildlife trade.
8. Animal welfare organizations should not only oppose conservation philosophies in key range states but also fund wildlife conservation.
9. The conference further noted the information gap in local and international media about wildlife management and agreed to cultivate good media relations by inviting local, regional, and international media to participate in technical workshops to better understand conservation issues.
10. Furthermore, community involvement in elephant conservation is required at the national, regional, and international levels. There is a need to develop a functional Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) policy and legislation that allow communities to receive benefits that outweigh the costs of management.
11. The conference took stock on the successes and failures on African elephant conservation with key range states highlighting overall success in the conservation of the African Elephant.
12. The conference agreed that elephant range states should not be penalized for their efforts to conserve the species but should rather be commended and supported by the international community for their good management practices.
13. The Conference agreed that current CITES decisions are no longer scientific but based on votes and emotions. As such, there is a need to review the convention and ensure it serves its intended purpose
14. The conference adopted a Hwange Declaration on the Conservation of the African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) and called upon all key African Range States to endorse and adopt it.
Done at Hwange, Zimbabwe on the 25th of May 2022