The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the world’s largest terrestrial mammal found in more than 38 Range States across Africa. It is a species of considerable economic, ecological, cultural and aesthetic value to many people and is arguably the world’s most charismatic mega-herbivore. African elephants possess extraordinary intelligence, complex social structures and remarkable abilities to adapt to their surroundings.
Elephants face a multitude of very serious threats, including illegal killing for ivory and other products,conflict with humans, local overabundance and loss and fragmentation of habitat. The magnitude of these threats, for some elephant populations, is so severe that many predict these populations may be lost entirely.
To reverse the trend, the African Elephant Action Plan (AEAP) which outlines the actions that must be taken in order to effectively conserve elephants in Africa across their range, was adopted in March 2010 at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES. The document was developed in response to a Decision of the CITES Parties to develop such a plan and as well as the African Elephant Fund (AEF) to assist with its implementation.
The AEF implements the AEAP and works to address illegal wildlife trade (IWT) as it relates to the African elephant range States in addressing illegal trade in ivory, habitat loss and fragmentation and the illegal killings of elephant populations in Africa across their range.
AEF’s overall impact is to ensure that IWT is addressed nationally, supported regionally, and affirmed internationally; by and not limited to improving detection and conviction of IWT criminal activities, improving technical support, strengthening awareness and increasing capacity of range States to protect, preserve and ensure not only reduction but a stop in the IWT.