African Elephant Conservation Grant Fund

The African Elephant Conservation Fund is a financial assistance program that supports projects that deliver measurable conservation results for savanna and forest elephants and their habitats across Africa. Pursuing an evidence-based approach, we publish strategic geographical and thematic priorities and application guidelines in a Notice of Funding Opportunity. All proposals go through a rigorous and competitive evaluation process. Once project support is confirmed, we engage in a partnership with the grantee, providing technical support as needed, communicating on a regular basis, and playing an active role in monitoring and evaluating the project's success. This helps ensure that our limited funding is effective and enables us to improve the impact of the African Elephant Conservation Fund through adaptive management.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The International Affairs Program delivers on this mission through its financial assistance programs by supporting strategic projects that deliver measurable conservation results for priority species and their habitats around the world. In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the African Elephant Conservation Act in response to the alarming decline of African elephant populations. The Act provides for the establishment of the African Elephant Conservation Fund to provide financial assistance to support projects that will enhance sustainable conservation programs to ensure effective, long-term conservation of African elephants.

Recently, the African elephant was re-classified* by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) as two separate species, with the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) now listed as “Critically Endangered” and the savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) listed as “Endangered” under the IUCN’s 2020 African elephant Red List Assessment. (*The African elephant taxonomy used by IUCN is not a legal authority for statutory or regulatory purposes.)  

We work closely with national governments, U.S. agencies, and a diverse array of other partners to ensure a strategic, results-based approach to conservation of both elephant species across Africa’s 37 elephant range countries.

African Elephant Conservation Fund Requirements

We prioritize support for the following thematic and geographic focus areas for conservation of African forest and African savanna elephants:

Thematic priorities:

  • Enhanced protection of at-risk elephant populations;
  • Efforts to decrease human-elephant conflict and improve human-elephant coexistence;
  • Habitat conservation and management;
  • Protected area management in important elephant range;
  • Strengthening local capacity to implement conservation programs;
  • Trans-frontier elephant conservation (e.g., maintaining or restoring connectivity between subpopulations, establishing new wildlife areas and protected corridors);
  • Wildlife inspection, law enforcement, and forensic skills;
  • Conservation education and community outreach;
  • Applied research necessary to inform protection and management, including surveys and monitoring;
  • Development and execution of elephant conservation management plans or ivory action plans;
  • Development of innovative technologies that have the potential to improve elephant protection;
  • Compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other applicable treaties and laws that prohibit or regulate the taking or trade of elephants or regulate the use and management of elephant habitat;
  • Reducing demand for and trafficking of illegal ivory products.

Geographic Priorities:

Priority projects work within the range of African forest or savanna elephants, or, if outside of these ranges, demonstrate clear benefits to elephants in Africa. Projects must identify immediate threats to elephant survival and support direct conservation activities to eliminate or reduce those threats. 

The following forest and savanna elephant strongholds are considered priority populations[1]:

Forest Elephant Strongholds(populations >1,000 individuals)

  • TRIDOM Forest: including Minkébé, Djoua-Bélinga, Ivindo, Mwagne, Odzala-Kokoua, Ngombe, Ntokou-Pikounda, Mengame, Dja, Nki, Boumba-Bek
  • Greater Sangha-Ndoki Region: including Lobéké, Dzanga, Ndoki, Likouala-aux-Herbes, Nouabalé-Ndoki, Lac Télé
  • Central African Coast: including Gamba Complex, Loango, Moukalaba-Doudou, Mayumba, Conkouati-Douli
  • Gabon Interior: including Lopé, Waka, Birougou
  • DR Congo Interior: including Maiko, Okapi, Ituri Forest
  • Salonga Region: including Salonga
  • WAP Complex: including W-Arly-Pendjari

Savanna Elephant Strongholds (populations >10,000 individuals)

  • KAZA Trans-frontier Conservation Area (TFCA): including Northern Botswana, Khaudum, Caprivi, Hwange, Kafue
  • Selous-Niassa Region: including Selous, Mikumi, Niassa
  • Western Tanzania Region: including Moyowosi-Kigosi, Ugalla, Katavi-Rukwa, Ruaha-Rungwa
  • Luangwa-Zambezi Valley: including Luangwa, Lower Zambezi
  • Laikipia-Samburu Ecosystem: including Laikipia-Samburu, Mt. Kenya, Aberdare
  • Greater Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation Area (TFCA): including Kruger, Gonarezhou, Limpopo
  • Kenya Rift Valley: including Tsavo, Amboseli, Chyulu

Priority is also given to ecologically or evolutionarily unique populations, defined by at least one of the following conditions: (a) the population is reproductively isolated and differs markedly in its genetic characteristics from other elephant populations; (b) the population persists in an ecological setting unusual for elephants; (c) the loss of the population would result in a significant gap in elephant range; or (d) the population is of national importance.

[1] Priority populations determined from the latest available AfESG African Elephant Status Report and Database (2016) and recently published, peer-reviewed African forest and savanna elephant population studies.


Applicants can be individuals; multi-national secretariats; foreign national and local government agencies; non-profit non-governmental organizations; for-profit organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; U.S. territorial governments; and Tribes and Tribal organizations.


All applicants must submit applications through Detailed guidance on how to prepare applications is provided in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) available online at and The NOFO should be read carefully to ensure that applications meet all eligibility requirements and are complete upon submission.