Memorandum of Understanding
Conservation Measures for
the West African Populations
of the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Among the competent authorities of:
The Republic of Benin
The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
The Republic of Ghana
The Republic of Guinea
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau
The Republic of Liberia
The Republic of Mali
The Republic of the Niger
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Republic of Senegal
The Republic of Sierra Leone
The Togolese Republic
The undersigned, acting on behalf of the respective authorities named above,
Aware of their international responsibilities to conserve the West African populations of the African Elephant (hereafter the African Elephant), Loxodonta africana, pursuant to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (Nairobi, 1992), which has recognized migratory species as a unique globally important component of biodiversity under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) (Bonn, 1979), and that CMS is the CBD lead partner in conserving and sustainably using migratory species over their entire migratory range;
Equally aware of their regional responsibilities to conserve the African Elephant and its habitats pursuant to the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Maputo, 2003), and in fulfilment of the Environment Initiative envisioned within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development;
Recognising the key sub-regional role of the Economic Community of West African States in supporting its member States’ efforts to conserve the African Elephant and the important contributions this will make to the sub-region’s goals for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development;
Noting that the African Elephant plays an important ecological role in both savannah and forest ecosystems, and that recent genetic studies indicate that West Africa’s elephants may form a unique taxonomic unit;
Acknowledging that demographic pressure and the development of human activities have significantly reduced the African Elephant’s habitat, and that this has not only caused extreme fragmentation of those habitats that remain, but an ever increasing number of conflicts between elephants and people;
Acknowledging further that during the 20th century approximately ninety percent of the original range of the African Elephant within the thirteen West African Range States was lost;
Noting that the expansion of human populations and habitat conversion, during the 19th and 20th centuries, along with poaching and the trade in ivory are believed to have fragmented and compromised the long-term viability of most of West Africa’s elephant populations and that in 1989 all West African populations of the African Elephant were included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Washington, 1973);
Conscious that domestic trade in ivory within some of the Range States of West Africa significantly contributes to the illegal international trade in ivory;
Noting that the African Elephant remains endangered across West Africa due to the loss of its range and the decline in its numbers;
Understanding that this species is essentially migratory, which makes the survival of the individuals dependent upon the conservation of habitats, including corridors for movements between or among Range States;
Conscious that better knowledge of the African Elephant’s biology and migration routes would assist in targeting conservation measures;
Recalling that Loxodonta africana appears on CMS Appendix II, and consequently it is a subject for cooperative measures;
Further recalling that CMS calls for international co-operative action to conserve migratory species, and that CMS, Article IV, paragraph 4, encourages CMS Contracting Parties to conclude Agreements – including legally non-binding administrative agreements – in respect of any population of migratory species;
Recalling that the African Elephant Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC), with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature, have developed the Strategy for the Conservation of West African Elephants (1999) (hereinafter the Strategy);
Recognising that, as called for in the Strategy, a number of West-African Range States have already developed national elephant conservation strategies and that the implementation of this MoU will strengthen their on-going efforts, while providing a further basis for other Range States to develop their own national strategies;
Further recognising that, as called for in the Strategy, the implementation of the CITES programmes, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) and the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), could provide valuable information to support the conservation and management of West Africa’s elephants if effectively implemented;
Realising that actions must be taken immediately to prevent the disappearance of the remaining populations of the species in West Africa;
Acknowledging their shared responsibility to conserve the African Elephant, especially those populations frequenting cross-border areas, and the desirability of encouraging all Range States, as well as other countries and non-governmental organizations, to take part in a joint initiative to implement this Memorandum of Understanding and the revised Strategy for the Conservation of West African Elephants;
Confirming that the Range States of the African Elephant have the first responsibility to implement this Memorandum of Understanding;
DECIDE to work closely together to improve the conservation status and the habitat of the African Elephant throughout its range.
To this end, in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, they will individually or collectively:
- Take steps to conserve and, when and where appropriate, to strictly protect the African Elephant and to conserve and sustainably use the habitats essential for its survival.
- Review and, if required, update, applicable national legislation, and ratify or accede to the most relevant international conventions addressing the African Elephant’s conservation, in order to reinforce the species’ protection, particularly with regard to domestic and international trade in ivory.
- Subject to the availability of resources, implement in their respective countries the provisions of the Strategy annexed to this Memorandum of Understanding as a basis for conserving all populations of the species in West Africa. The Strategy includes inter alia measures to: (a) evaluate the status of elephants; (b) maintain and increase elephant populations; and (c) improve elephant habitats. These objectives would be accomplished, in large part, through the development and implementation of national elephant conservation and management strategies and plans.
- Facilitate the rapid exchange of scientific, technical and legal information necessary to coordinate conservation measures and to cooperate with recognized experts of the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, other international organizations and other Range States so as to facilitate their work conducted in relation to the Strategy. To further facilitate the work under the Memorandum the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group shall be the technical advisor to this Memorandum of Understanding.
- Assess the implementation of this Memorandum of Understanding, including the Strategy, at regular meetings to be attended by representatives of each of the authorities concerned and persons or organizations technically qualified in the conservation of the African Elephant. The CMS Secretariat, in liaison with the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, will convene such meetings. The technical advisor shall be fully involved with any meeting preparations and shall participate in any relevant meetings, whether regular or extraordinary, as well as the work of this Memorandum. The meetings will be hosted by and organized in collaboration with one of the Range States.
- Designate a competent authority to serve as a contact point for the other signatories and communicate without delay the name and contact details of this authority (and any changes thereto) to the CMS Secretariat.
- Provide the CMS Secretariat at least every two years after the date of the Memorandum’s entry into effect with a report on implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding in each of their respective countries. The Secretariat will transmit to each of the Range States and the Co-operating Organizations all of the reports received, together with an overview report that it will compile on the basis of information at its disposal.
- This Memorandum of Understanding will be considered an agreement under CMS article IV, paragraph 4, notwithstanding that it is not a legally binding agreement.
- The Strategy annexed to this Memorandum of Understanding is an integral part thereof.
- This Memorandum of Understanding will take effect immediately for those three or more Range States that have signed it. It will remain open for signature indefinitely, and will become effective for each subsequent Range State on the date of signature. The Memorandum of Understanding will remain in effect indefinitely subject to the right of any signatory to terminate its participation by providing one year’s written notice to all of the other signatories.
- This Memorandum of Understanding, including the Strategy, may be amended by a consensus of all signatories.
- Nothing in this Memorandum of Understanding will be legally binding on any of the signatories either individually or collectively.
- All West African Range States of the African Elephant will be eligible to sign this Memorandum of Understanding.
- The original texts of this Memorandum of Understanding in the English and French languages will be deposited with the CMS Secretariat, which will act as the Depositary.
- The CMS Secretariat will provide Secretariat functions as outlined in this Memorandum of Understanding. It may use the services of any reliable organization.
- The working languages for all matters related to this Memorandum of Understanding will be English and French.