Africa steps up fight against wildlife crime
Ministers adopted an implementation roadmap with an action-oriented matrix for the ‘African Common Strategy on Combatting Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa’ at AMCEN, together with next steps to ensure its effective implementation.
“This concrete plan to implement the African strategy against illegal wildlife trade is a significant step towards ending the continent’s poaching and wildlife trafficking crisis,” said TRAFFIC’s Senior Director for Africa and Europe, Roland Melisch. “We encourage all African Union (AU) Member States and partners to take immediate steps at the national-level in line with this plan – and so help catalyse transformative continental and global action.”
Developed following an international conference on the illegal wildlife trade in Brazzaville in April 2015, the common strategy was endorsed by the AU’s Executive Council during its 27th ordinary session in Johannesburg in June.
Agreement on the implementation plan was reached during at a consultative meeting in Addis Ababa last month, which was convened by the AU Commission and involved experts from member states, ICCWC partners, UN agencies, and international and regional conservation organisations.
“Implementing the common African strategy is critical since no country can hope to tackle wildlife crime on its own,” said Elisabeth McLellan, WWF Head, Wildlife Crime Initiative. “There has never been so much high level political momentum in Africa to tackle transnational organised wildlife crime: now there is a plan to turn this into action.”
An experts group comprising representatives from AU Member States will now be established to review the implementation matrix and support the plan of action. Regional workshops on the implementation of the strategy will also be convened.
Discussions on the implementation plan during the ministerial meeting were informed by a side event on the surging illegal trade as well as on levels and means of illegal exploitation of wild fauna and flora in Africa. Hosted by the AU Commission, IUCN, BirdLife International, WWF, TRAFFIC and AWF, and chaired by the Nigerian State Minister of Environment, it focussed on the current status, challenges, approaches and opportunities in dealing with the current crisis.
Proposed interventions included increased budgetary support for law enforcement and developing appropriate legislation to control, ban or restrict use of toxic chemicals used in the indiscriminate killing of vultures, elephants, lions and other wildlife.
"Africa’s vultures are on the edge of extinction directly and indirectly due to poisoning related to ivory poaching and traditional medicine trade” said Ken Mwathe, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the BirdLife International Africa Office. “BirdLife is encouraged by the level of commitment and support that has been shown by African countries. The plan will ensure coordinated regional action against wildlife crime on the African continent”.