Conservation Influencers

Elephant Protection Initiative

UK charity

Launched in 2014, the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) was founded by two US-based NGOs, Stop Ivory and Conservation International, which became its co-secretariat. However Stop Ivory closed down its operations in 2020 because, in its words, it was ‘no longer needed because ivory prices were down substantially, and the African elephant population had stabilized’.

The Elephant Protection Initiative founding members were Gabon, Chad, Tanzania, Botswana and Ethiopia, supported by the UK Government. EPI currently has 21 member countries.

The Elephant Protection Initiative  says it has four objectives: maintain the 1989 international moratorium on ivory trade until elephant populations recover; close domestic ivory markets; place ivory stockpiles beyond commercial use; implement the 2010 African Elephant Action Plan

The 2010 African Elephant Action plan aims to ‘assess and promote, as appropriate, consumptive and non-consumptive use of elephants and the sharing of benefits accrued with affected communities’. It is a plan that supports the management of sustainable elephant populations, to provide ‘ecological, socio, cultural and economic benefits’.

But at CITES’ CoP-18, EPI took a militant stand against the Southern African Development Community countries (SADC), the foundational rules of CITES and the principles contained in its 2010 African Elephant Action Plan that it supposedly still supports. 

In defiance of the Convention, EPI dismissed the fact that SADC countries had entered reservations to CITES’ regulations that tightened the rules on the trade in live elephants and rhinoceroses, which freed them from any obligation to obey those rules. Instead, it argued that SADC should be ‘prevented from exercising their sovereign right to trade their elephants sustainably’. In other words, EPI contested the inalienable rights set out in CITES’ rule book, and it also betrayed the principles contained in the action plan it was created to implement. (See: Challenge to CITES).

Much of EPI’s current work is focused on managing human wildlife conflicts by ‘deploying the best available technologies and techniques; avoiding the conditions that could lead to future conflicts, through spatial planning and, again, the best use of available technologies and techniques’. When it comes to ivory, EPI believes that trade can never be part of the solution, which betrays its mission to back consumptive use. (See: ‘Looking beyond ivory – the EPI Foundation to 2030’.)

Today, its secretariat is no longer managed by CI, but by The EPI Foundation based in London. However, CI’s CEO Sanjayan Muttulingam is one of EPI’s three serving Trustees. 


The Elephant Protection Initiative’s Chief Executive Officer is John Scanlon, former Director-General of CITES. 


The Elephant Protection Initiative’s Leadership Council is led by Ian Khama, former President of Botswana.  



About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Wildlife Conservation Society

In 1906, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put an African man on display in Bronx Zoo’s Monkey House. In 1918, one of WCS’s founding fathers, Madison Grant, published Passing of the Great Race, which Adolf Hitler referred to as his ‘Bible’. Another leading creator and early leader of WCS, Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr, was also a founder of the American Eugenics Society. His son headed WCS from 1940 to 1968, overseeing a series of major initiatives in Africa. There, WCS became one of the architects of the prohibition movement, which put wildlife for consumptive use and vast regions of land out of bounds to humanity. In 2020, WCS distanced itself in public from the racist views of Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. But it has yet to issue a critical account of the legacy of Fairfield Osborn Jr, even though he led WCS into the modern era while sharing similar politically-inspired ecological goals to his father and Grant. WCS devotes considerable financial resources to influencing outcomes at CITES. WCS’s CEO reportedly earns USD$1,320,978.