NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Somalia on Wednesday signed to join The Elephant
Protection Initiative (EPI), an African-led program aimed at
ending ivory trade.
Livestock and Pasture, Said Hussein Iid, said Somalia’s rich
environmental history had for long been overshadowed by the
long-drawn civil war.
“However, it is our
hope that by joining the EPI, we can work to slowly rebuild this
history and join together with other African nations to stop the
harrowing consequences that elephant poaching and trafficking is
bringing to our continent,” Hussein said in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to a
statement from UK-based conservation group Stop Ivory issued in
Nairobi, Somalia which was once known as a place of rich
biodiversity became the 14th African nation to sign
on to the EPI since its inception in 2014.
Stop Ivory CEO John
Stephenson said: “It is crunch time for Africa’s elephants and
without a stop to the poaching, killing, trafficking and trade,
their populations will continue to fade.”
the EPI also shows the growing strength of Africa’s voice in
taking a stand against illegal wildlife trade and trafficking,”
The Horn of Africa
nation has seen its wildlife populations decline rapidly with
only small pockets of wildlife roaming freely in some parts of
constant pressures from overgrazing, charcoal production,
poaching and an open ivory market, coupled with a 20-year civil
war, have created a conservation wilderness in a region that was
once said to host one of Africa’s largest wildlife populations.
executive director for wildlife trafficking at the U.S.-based
NGO Conservation International, said the signing of the
initiative was a momentous occasion for the EPI and for Somalia
ahead of the upcoming Johannesburg Conference of the Parties to
CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and
“The EPI has come a
long way in a short time in preparation for this event and
Somalia joining us recognizes the commitment and attention that
African leaders are giving to ensuring the protection of the
continents’ elephant populations and to putting a stop to the
trade that is fuelling the poaching crisis,” said Roberts.
conservationists, international demand for ivory and rhino horn
is fuelling shocking declines in the elephant throughout Africa.
approximately 1.2 million elephants roamed the continent, but by
2012 as few as 500,000 African elephants remained in the wild.
Poachers kill an
estimated 25,000 African elephants every year with some evidence
suggesting that if poaching and trade persists at this level,
most African elephant populations will disappear in the next
The EPI was launched
by leaders from Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania
during the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in
Liberia, Malawi, Angola, Congo and the Gambia have since also
joined the EPI.