Wildlife crime requires African solutions, governments in the region say

Nov 13, 2014

Arusha, Tanzania –  Governments in Africa and a wide spectrum of partners must join forces to combat wildlife crimes, said representatives as they gathered for a regional summit on how to boost conservation efforts.

Government representatives from a wide number of countries in the region and East African Community (EAC) officials, United Nations agencies, members of the US congress, donor countries, and representatives of civil society and academia.

The event was hosted by Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources, Lazaro Nyalandu and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF).

“The problem of poaching requires an African Solution - we must work together to improve the situation, together as a region,” said Nyalandu, urging countries to promote livelihoods through conservation and raise awareness on the importance of wildlife management.

The meeting focused on law enforcement, the transnational dimensions of wildlife crime, and conservation.

The tourism industry contributes between 7 and 10 percent of the foreign exchange needed by EAC Member States. Poaching and wildlife trafficking "undermine the livelihoods of dependent communities and damages the health of the ecosystems they depend on", said the Secretary General of EAC, Richard Sezibera.

Participants reaffirmed their commitment to manage and conserve wildlife in the region.

Participants cited the value of protecting natural resources, which they called the “backbone” of national socio-economic development. Emphasizing the importance of natural resources management and wildlife, the UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania said wildlife crime poses challenges for the environment, livelihoods based on tourism, and sustainable development. He added that poaching needs to be tackled at national and regional levels.

“We need more cooperation between source, transit and consumer countries,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania, Alvaro Rodriguez, referring to transnational crime. “We need more focus on governance and the rule of law and we need more national and regional cooperation.”

Participants in the meeting also called for national recovery targets for critical species such as elephants, rhinos and lions.

At the end of the meeting, participants signed the Arusha Declaration, calling for urgent action to address wildlife crime and announcing the creation of three bilateral agreements between Tanzania and its neighbours Zambia, Kenya and Mozambique.

Poaching is becoming a serious issue for Africa, with over 10,000 African elephants killed in 2013, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

UNDP has a mandate to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade—focusing on the issue as a challenge associated with human development, governance and the rule of law.

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