Photo © Carlton Ward
Square acres of elephant habitat with enhanced protection
Young people working for their communities as ecoguardians to defend elephants and restore degraded habitats
Elephants roaming free in the deserts of Mali because of MEP efforts
Hear the story of how the project developed its approach
Since 2007 the Mali Elephant Project (MEP) has built on this to help protect the endangered animals through empowering local communities in creating systems to protect nature and keep the elephants safe. This has provided multiple benefits. For example, in declaring pasture reserves and protected forests, building fire-breaks and preventing abusive tree-cutting, young men decide to work as eco-guardians instead of taking up arms and women can choose to build micro-enterprises such as selling hay and forest products. Benefits for local people go alongside those for the elephants creating a basis for true sustainability.
*The Mali Elephant Project is a joint initiative of WILD and the International Conservation Fund of Canada.
The MEP takes a proven three-pronged, community-centered approach to elephant conservation
By empowering local people to better manage natural resources, we help improve local livelihoods while simultaneously protecting the natural world upon which the elephants and people depend. This has resulted in increased availability of water, forest and pasture, improved environmental and social resilience, and many more livelihood options for women and youth.
Since 2012 (the beginning of the insurgency), lawlessness has overtaken much of the elephant range, providing a haven for wildlife traffickers. At the request of community eco-guardians the Mali Elephant Project worked with the national government to create an anti-poaching unit to help prevent wildlife crime.
Policy and Legislation
Mali’s decentralization legislation puts natural resources – water, forests, pasture and wildlife – under the control of local communities, allowing them to devise their own management systems. A new protected area that covers the whole of the elephant range will use the Biosphere Reserve approach to further support these systems, while protecting key habitats, elephants and their migration route.