14 November 2018: More than 30 countries have established the African Carnivore Initiative, which represents the first Africa-wide commitment to save African wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and lions. The Initiative is a collaboration between the two global treaties with a mandate to conserve endangered species: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

According to CMS, the range States identify habitat loss, fragmentation and conversion, increasing trade in lion specimens and live cheetah, prey depletion and retaliatory killing of carnivores by livestock owners as contributing to the “rapid decline” of African wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and lions across most of Africa. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Assessments found that leopards inhabit 51 percent of their historic range, lions occupy 17 percent of their historic range, cheetahs occupy nine percent and African wild dogs inhabit only six percent of their historic range.

In response to these trends and related concerns, range States of African wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and lions met in Bonn, Germany, from 5-8 November to establish the African Carnivore Initiative. Range States agreed on several priority measures: developing and implementing conservation strategies for each of the four species; creating and maintaining a network of healthy ecosystems to address fragmented habitats; and finding solutions to human-wildlife conflicts and facilitating coexistence. The Initiative will also work to increase sustainable livelihoods benefits to communities, reduce the costs to communities of living alongside wildlife and increase awareness on the plight of African carnivores to ensure long-term success of conservation action.

African wild dogs inhabit only six percent of their historic range.

The African Carnivore Initiative will also close knowledge gaps, and develop and promote monitoring protocols for large carnivore populations, including to increase the availability of relevant information to support informed decision making. The Initiative will provide support to range States to monitor the populations of African wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and lions.

In a communique, the range States invite the Conferences of Parties (COP) to CITES at its 18th meeting and the COP of CMS at its 13th meeting to instruct the development of a Joint Programme of Work for the Initiative, in line with the identified priority measures. The States also call for a national coordination structure based on the ‘Range Wide Conservation Programme for Cheetah and Wild Dog’ to provide technical support and training to coordinators and a platform for regular meetings.

The collaboration between CITES and CMS will enable the Initiative to tackle carnivore conservation from two different angles. CITES regulates international trade, and aims to end illegal trade in wildlife. CMS focuses on broad conservation measures, like establishment of ecological corridors, habitat protection and mitigation of human-wildlife conflict.

The range States that participated in the meeting are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. [CMS Press Release] [Communique]