The African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) is a group of technical experts focusing on the conservation and management of African elephants. The broad aim of the AfESG is to promote the long-term conservation of Africa's elephants and, where possible, the recovery of their population to viable levels. The full terms of reference of the AfESG are available here.
Led by a volunteers Co-Chair (currently Dr Ben Okita Ouma and Dr Rob Slotow), the group consists of some 62 volunteer members drawn from all parts of the continent. All members are actively involved in some aspect of elephant conservation and/or management. Membership is reviewed and reappointed approximately every four years.
Subject to funding availability, the group meets approximately every one to two years to review status and trends of elephant populations and to discuss progress in specific areas related to conservation of the species.
Since it was first convened in the mid 1970's, the AfESG has considerably grown in size and complexity. There is at present one AfESG office, the AfESG secretariat in Nairobi (Kenya) where full-time staff has been provided to facilitate the work of the group and to better serve the members' needs.
The challenge of the group is to find workable solutions to country and regional problems in an open-minded atmosphere devoid of deliberate controversies. To meet this challenge, the AfESG has provided technical expertise and advice by helping to facilitate the development of national, sub-regional and continental conservation strategies and management plans and through the publication of Pachyderm and the upkeep of the African Elephant Library.
The AfESG has worked to provide updates on the numbers of range of elephants through the African Elephant Database and to provide tools and advice on managing human-elephant conflict.
The Group has also been closely involved in CITES and CMS over the years. In particular, the AfESG has been involved in the development of the CITES programme Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE).
In addition, the AfESG has assisted in the organisation, facilitation and technical preparation of the Range States Dialogues and more recently, African elephant meetings, which have been instrumental in moving towards regional consensus on controversial elephant issues.
The AfESG will continue to provide sound, interdisciplinary scientific information to aid in decision making and action. The group will strive to maintain its focus on conservation action on the ground and the on capacity building to manage the species and the challenges it faces.