The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) announce the appointment of two new Co-Chairs Dr Benson Okita-Ouma and Dr Robert Slotow.
Dr Okita-Ouma and Dr Slotow succeed Dr Holly Dublin who dedicated 25 successful years to the leadership role of AfESG. The key objective of the AfESG is “to promote the long-term conservation of Africa’s elephants throughout their range”.
Since its establishment in the mid-1970s, the AfESG has provided technical expertise on a national, regional and global level relating to the conservation of African Elephants. For example, it convened the African Elephant Summit (2013), attended by 30 countries, which passed 14 “Urgent Measures” to halt and reverse the trend in illegal killing of elephants and the illegal trade in ivory.
The Specialist Group has also published status reports, management plans and guidelines focusing on the African Elephant, and it contributes valuable policy knowledge to international conventions such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). A major recent output of the group was the publication of the African Elephant Status Report 2016, which is an authoritative source of knowledge about the numbers and distribution of African Elephants across their 37 Range States in sub-Saharan Africa.
The newly appointed Co-Chairs will continue to drive the excellent work of the AfESG, including priority projects such as the African Elephant Database (AED) which stores and analyses information on elephant numbers across Africa to track the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Other priority projects include engagement with the CITES MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Programme, African Elephant taxonomy and the African Elephant IUCN Red List Assessment.
The Co-Chairs will also be looking to expand the membership, ensuring good representation from all African Elephant Range States and improve the balance of members with regards to age and gender.
Dr Okita-Ouma is based in Nairobi and is the Head of Monitoring at Save the Elephants (STE). He has been engaged in wildlife conservation for over 20 years, holding key positions with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Lake Nakuru National Park. Dr Okita has experience of the IUCN SSC network through his role as Deputy Chair of the African Rhino Specialist Group.
Dr Slotow is a Full Professor at the University of Kwazulu-Natal where he researches the management of large mammals and biodiversity conservation, conservation management decision making and the sustainable management and use of Natural Capital for delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.