GROENEVELD CONFERENCEKEYNOTE SPEECHBYCHARLIE MAYHEW MBEThursday 13thJune 2013Thank you Rene for your very kind introductionI am extremely honoured to be invited to address yourconference. Indeed today‟s theme could not be more relevantgiven the unprecedented poaching crisis that is envelopingAfrica today.A crisis that has quickly emerged as one of the greatestchallenges facing conservationists today. So much so thatLast month, Tusk‟s patron Prince William and his father ThePrince of Wales co hosted a unique gathering ofrepresentatives from 23 countries at St James‟s Palace toseek ways to halt wildlife crime.Prince William, like his father and grandfather before him, istaking a proactive role in helping to raise the profile of thisissue and Tusk is incredibly fortunate to have him as ourPatron. And perhaps more importantly he speaks for ayounger generation who are set to inherit the world we chooseto leave them.
At the conference William said, and I quote, “My plea is thatmy generation is not the first on this planet to considerelephants, rhino, or tigers as historical creatures – in the samecategory as the Dodo or the Mammoth. These creatures arestill with us, their magnificence more wonderful than anythingwe could ever create in our imaginations, and they enrich ourworld immeasurably. Their majesty contrasts to the uglinessof the illegal trade that destroys them through greed orThe Prince of Wales in his address to the delegates made thepoint, “As a father and a soon-to-be grandfather, I find itinconceivable that our children and grandchildren could live ina world bereft of these animals. Humanity is less thanhumanity without the rest of creation.” How true!The re-emergence of rhino poaching is being stimulated bydemand for rhino horn from Far Eastern consumers willing topay exorbitant prices for a few ounces of rhino horn powder inthe mistaken belief that it will cure them of some ailment. Thetruth is that taking rhino horn is little different to biting yourfinger nails – it is something that has no proven medicinal orscientific value. And yet in some markets horn is selling for$40,000 per kilo - making it more valuable than gold. What is
worrying is that in China, rhino horn is now being viewed asthe ultimate status symbol sold as carved artifacts for therapidly growing affluent classes. The tragic reality is that aniconic species, which has been on this planet for 40 millionyears and is itself a huge draw for tourists travelling to Africa,could go extinct within a mere generation.Tusk was founded in 1990 against the backdrop of Africa‟slast poaching crisis when hundreds of thousands of elephantswere being slaughtered for their ivory.Over the last two decades the Charity has successfully raisedand invested nearly $30m into a broad range of field projects.Our goal is not only to protect Africa‟s wildlife, particularlyendangered species, whether they be elephant, rhino, gorilla,big cats or even turtles, but to use conservation as a means topromote sustainable development and improve education.We believe that conservation is ultimately about people.Wildlife and wilderness areas will only exist if man allows themto exist and our approach recognises that the long-termsuccess of conservation ultimately relies upon our ability tofully engage with local communities living alongside wildlife. Itis an integrated approach.
Today Tusk invests in an extensive portfolio of projects –approximately 56 across 17 African countries. We have learntthat conservation can be a powerful tool in helping to alleviatepoverty, increase security and even provide the foundationsfor conflict resolution between different tribal groups.For a country like Kenya, 70% of its wildlife lives outsidenational parks – this rich wildlife heritage is immenselyvaluable in terms of tourism potential for Kenya‟s overall GDPand the same is true of many countries in Africa. So makingconservation relative to the lives of ordinary rural Africans iscritical. Wildlife has to become their asset.Tusk has been at the forefront of investing in community-based initiatives since 1993, first in Zimbabwe, but perhapsthe best example now is a growing collection of communityowned and managed conservancies in northern Kenya.Twenty years ago, this particular region of Samburu had beenat the heart of the ivory „killing fields‟ – an insecure land thatfew people and certainly no tourists were willing to tread.Today it has become a safe haven for wildlife and a flagshipinitiative to show how responsible tourism can bring tangibleand financial benefits to the local communities.
With the support of Tusk and under the auspices of theNorthern Rangelands Trust, this visionary approach pioneeredby Ian Craig of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has recovereda vast tract of habitat that covers nearly 3 million acres ofcommunity land. The transition has been extraordinary andthe benefits are clear. 19 individual community-ownedconservancies have been established under a commonconservation model that now benefits some 150,000 people.Indeed there is no shortage of communities queuing up toadopt the model.What is exciting about the Northern Rangelands is how theseconservancies now offer some of the very best wildernesstourism experiences in Africa – lodges and camps like Sarara,Saruni, Il Ngwesi, Tassia, and Sasaab are all stunningexamples of a symbiotic relationship between tourism andcommunities. Sarara is earning over $150,000 per annum forthe 5,000 community members of Namunyak.I am proud that Tusk recognized and invested in this groundbreaking model from the very beginning and it is one we arekeen to replicate elsewhere. In the Maasai Mara too, we aresupporting a similar move by communities to form successfulconservancies around the famous park.
As ever in the developing world, education is key and forTusk, it represents one of the cornerstones for successfulconservation in Africa. We invest nearly a third of our fundseach year into education related programmes, and thisincludes a significant investment into the construction andrefurbishment of schools, both primary and secondary in poorrural areas close to key conservation projects. We also fund aportfolio of environmental education centres, designed to hostchildren on short residential courses –and providing manywith their first experience of the bush or wildlife.Notwithstanding all our achievements and conservation gains,the poaching crisis that I referred to at the beginning hasreturned with a vengeance. But it is not just the rhino that isunder threat – Lion populations are crashing and are nowestimated to be less than 20,000 and as few as 15,000. Thatmakes the „King of the jungle‟ even more rare than the rhino.Human wildlife conflict – the clash between livestock farmersand big predators has been a major contributor to thisdramatic collapse in lion numbers, but once again Far Easternconsumers have turned their sights on lion body parts as asubstitute to Tigers, since they have become so rare. Canyou imagine trying to sell a safari to Africa without being ableto offer your client the chance to see Lion?
The African elephant that is once again succumbing tounprecedented demand for its ivory driven by consumers inthe Far East and China.Today Africa‟s elephant population could be as low as400,000 down from 600,000 in 1989 and 1.3million in 1979.And some estimates suggest that as many as 35,000 animalswere slaughtered by poachers for their tusks last year. Theseizure of illegal ivory last year hit record levels and this is justthe tip of the icebergThe escalation of the trade has demonstrated that thelimitations of the existing CITES framework. The internationalCITES ban does not apply to domestic trade and it is partlythis loophole that allows organized criminal syndicates toruthlessly exploit the profits from wildlife crime. At the recentCITES conference it was finally recognised that demandreduction is an urgent priority.And there is clear evidence to suggest that when consumersare faced with the reality and brutality of where ivory comesfrom, a very significant proportion will change their attitudeand habits. Our goal must be to make the consumption ofivory “un-cool” and socially unacceptable the world over.
Tusk is working with a number of organizations tosimultaneously combat the poaching on the ground, increaselaw enforcement, deliver harsher penalties, whilst exploring abold new initiative, which aims to break the deadlock betweenthose countries, who have traditionally sought to reintroducethe trade versus a clear majority of African range states whohave stated the need to strengthen the existing ban.Much of Tusk‟s effort is focused on where our strength lies,combating the issue on the ground with an increasedinvestment into anti-poaching teams, but the organized crimesyndicates and terrorism groups who now use ivory and rhinohorn to fund their arms, appear to have the upper hand. It ishowever good to see that the new Kenyan Government hasjust announced a significant increase in the penalties forpoaching and wildlife crime. We need more Governments tofollow this lead.Tusk has worked with many companies with businessinterests in Africa – none more so than the travel & safariindustry and I am pleased to say that we have a number ofcompanies who have become Travel Partners generouslysupporting and promoting our work to their clients.
I have always believed that the travel industry has animportant role to play in conservation. After all, the safarisector‟s future success and profits rely upon the survival ofwildlife and wild areas. For without the elephant, rhino, lion,cheetah, or great apes, the attraction and value of suchholidays will be severely diminished. And if the profitsdisappear, alternative and competing forms of land use willsoon take over in places such as the Maasai Mara. We cannot be the generation that allows the iconic species to goextinct on our watch.I have naturally focused on Africa – the continent that I knowbest – but the parallels can be drawn elsewhere in the worldwith the plight of the Tiger, Orangutan, Jaguar, Turtles,whales and dolphins. We need a responsible tourism industryas a partner to conservation.Tourism is a major contributor to the wealth of many countriesand the industry has a more powerful voice than perhaps itrecognizes which can help to persuade Governments to act insupport of the environment and conservation, enforcing lawsthat protect bio-diversity and coming down hard on criminalsor irresponsible business who seek to destroy it.
I want to leave you with this classic photograph of a famouselephant matriarch, Qumquat and her family taken inAmboseli National Park, Kenya.Qumquat, one of Amboselis finest remaining old matriarchswas born 1969. Here she is with her family including her twodaughters Quaye and Qantina. The photo was taken onSaturday 27thOctober below Mt Kilimanjaro. But 24 hourslater, all three adult elephants were killed by gunfire, theirfaces chain-sawed off, near the Tanzania border.Three days later the game rangers, funded by Tusk trackeddown the poacher, and in conjunction with KWS, arrested him.I am afraid this is the reality of what is happening everyday inAfrica.Ladies and Gentlemen, we can‟t let this continue,Governments, law enforcement agencies, conservationistsand the global travel industry all need to work together toensure this trade stops.I still believe we can.THANK YOU