Oxford team wins prestigious Equator Prize

We are delighted to announce that Dr Susan Canney and her team have been awarded The Equator Prize 2017 for their Mali Elephant Project. 

In a drought-prone zone rife with resource conflicts, the Mali Elephant Project sought to discover what it takes for humans and wildlife to live together. The project brings together various ethnic groups to effectively manage local resources and protect an internationally important population of 350 endangered African elephants – one of only two populations of “desert-adapted” elephants - and its migration route. 

By developing a model that protects elephants, improves local livelihoods, halts and reverses ecosystem degradation and promotes peace, the initiative has drastically reduced poaching of elephants in the 32,000 km² area. In addition, the project has fostered improved social cohesion between different local communities, and contributed to peace-building efforts by providing alternatives to joining extremist groups. This “elephant –centred” natural resource management provides additional incentives for communities to protect elephants and provides a vital complement to the anti-poaching enforcement efforts.

The Equator Prize is organized by the Equator Initiative within the United Nations Development Programme, and is awarded biennially to recognise outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. 

Upon being awarded the Prize, Dr Canney said: “I am absolutely ecstatic to have won – it is a great vindication of the team’s tenacity and commitment through the years that has allowed us to continue despite drought, rebellion and political turmoil.”

This year’s prize was awarded to outstanding community and indigenous initiatives that are advancing nature-based solutions for local sustainable development, with each winning group receiving USD 10,000. The winning teams are also invited to participate in a series of policy dialogues and special events during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2017, culminating in an award ceremony at the beginning of Climate Week.

To read more about the project: http://www.revamping.equatorinitiative.org/2017/06/28/the-mali-elephant-...

To read the National Geographic blog: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/07/ground-breaking-initial-...

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