This day of Wednesday, 10th May 2017, the Programme for the Rehabilitation and Strengthening of the Socio-Ecological Systems of the Lake Chad Basin (PRESIBALT) of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the NGO SOS Elephants – A Non-Governmental Organization which is striving to save elephants– signed a Convention with a view to preserving the remaining specimen of this specie which is endangered today. It is worth noting that the convention was signed within the framework of an “integrated development project for the protection of elephants along the Chari River in Mayo Kebbi-East and Chari-Baguirmi regions.”
This ceremony also offered the opportunity to stress the threat faced by these pachyderms that symbolize both robustness and wisdom as these animals are known for their smartness and good memory. However, the specie is actually endangered in the entire sub-region due to poaching activities which are aggravated by both armed conflicts and the loss of their natural habitats. The Convention also aims to ensure pacific coexistence between rural communities strongly affected by both climate change impacts and these mammals.
Through the provision of about 260, 000, 000 Francs CFA to this young Chadian NGO for a period of three (3) years, PRESIBALT which is being funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), has demonstrated its strong commitment to supporting SOS-Elephant, the guardians of both the Environment and wildlife. Since decades, this NGO has been warning and denouncing the poaching and massacre at a large scale of this iconic animal of Africa. They also help build the resilience of communities who are compelled to coexist and share the same scarce resources due to the high population pressure. “It was a dream which has become a reality”, STEPHANIE VERGNIAULT, the Chairperson of the NGO SOS-Elephants stated it in her speech. According to her, the loss of elephants would be an ecological disaster and witnessed the extinction of certain biotope. She further explained that the African Heads of State should be at the forefront of the campaigns of sensitization. She also stated that “the preservation of the wildlife and its habitat must be a top national priority. The high population pressure cannot solved by ceding the traditional and ancestral territories of elephants to communities.”
The full involvement of communities sharing the same area and who suffer from damages caused by these mammals that have been traumatized and become aggressive, is of paramount importance. The Environmental education of communities should include on the education on the relevance of ecosystems, the added values of the biodiversity, relationships between the environment and the society, sustainable economic development, trainings and the support in terms of crops protection tools as well as the creation and execution of income generating activities such as the production and sale of honey and associated honey products on commercial scale. This will not only help them improve their livelihoods, but also change their behavior so as to be more aware of both the relevance and vulnerability of the biodiversity.
All the speakers attending the formal signing ceremony of the convention stressed the relevance of this project which shall enable to protect the remaining elephants of Chad estimated at about 1,500 heads (against 40, 000 elephants, forty years ago) from poachers carrying fire guns, with a good knowledge of the bush and free movement across borders.
Hopefully the project will achieve its objectives which are, inter alia, the curtailing of poaching, damages and loss of crops and even of lives as well as the improvement of the livelihoods of surrounding communities, through the execution of activities related to income generating and environmental protection.
At the end of the ceremony, the Executive Secretary of LCBC stressed that micro-finance and environmental protection activities are very vital in building the adaptation of communities to climate change effects. He concluded his word by challenging SOS-Elephant to be more committed and untiring in executing fully the contents of the convention as approved. It is now high time that SOS-Elephant plays its part!