LA LOPE, GABON, April 3, 2017 – The Government of Gabon and the World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program (GWP) are convening over 60 participants in La Lopé National Park in central Gabon from April 3-7, 2017, to explore strategies and innovations to reduce human-wildlife conflict (HWC), a complex issue that poses a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species and the security and sustainability of community livelihoods across countries in Africa and Asia.
The conference will provide an overview of the root causes and drivers that have led to an increase in HWC, and explore potential approaches and techniques that incentivize communities to promote coexistence so that both people and wildlife can thrive.
Participants at the conference include among others, top experts in the field of conservation, government officials from over 15 countries, and senior representatives from GWP partner organizations and international NGOs. The conference will include a field visit to see mitigation approaches that have been adopted in La Lopé to reduce HWC and will end with a closing ceremony in Libreville chaired by Prof. Lee White, the director of Gabon’s National Agency of Natural Parks (ANPN).
The GWP is a $131 million global partnership on wildlife conservation, crime prevention and sustainable development funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It consists of 19 national projects across Africa and Asia that aim to reduce poaching, trafficking and demand of wildlife. Gabon’s $9.05 million Wildlife and Human-Elephant Conflict Management project will be launched at the conference. It includes Implementing strategies and solutions that support integrated landscape management, and mitigating HWC in southern Gabon. This is crucial to secure the future of forest elephants in Central Africa and boost Gabon’s rural economy.
“The choice of Gabon for this important conference could not have been better as Gabonese forests cover 88% of the country and are one of the last strongholds for the forest elephant, which is declining at the alarming rate of about 9% per year due to poaching. Under constant threat from poachers, elephants are migrating south and run into conflict with village communities,” said Claudia Sobrevila, the GWP’s Program Manger. “We hope this conference will give stakeholders in Gabon and in our other partner countries new tools and best practices to apply right away to their programs.”
As the competition for natural resources grows, changes to forested landscapes result in habitat loss and fragmentation putting endangered wildlife such as elephants, lions, and primates at a great risk. The GWP and the Government of Gabon recognize the importance of integrating wildlife as an asset and a competitive land use option. The conference will help develop solutions that will support governments to take a proactive approach to human wildlife coexistence.