Toolkit on the web could save the world's wildlife
As two recent WWF surveys indicated, most rangers in Asia and Africa feel that they are ill equipped and insufficiently trained to safely and effectively protect the world’s wildlife and wild places.
But the best available tools, technology, training guidelines and practices for halting poaching have now been gathered together in the zero poaching toolkit, which is supported by 28 organisations and freely accessible on zeropoaching.org.
"Governments and protected area managers can now find the tools they need to empower their rangers and boost their anti-poaching efforts at the click of a button," said Rohit Singh, President of the Ranger Federation of Asia at the World Ranger Congress. "These resources are tried and tested. It’s time they benefited all the brave men and women who patrol the wildlife frontline."
However, building the capacity of rangers is just one of the six pillars of the zero poaching framework, which was endorsed by the 13 tiger range countries at a summit in Nepal in 2015. Countries also need to focus on the other five: assessment, community, cooperation, prosecution and technology. And this website can help.
"To end the poaching crisis we need a coordinated, unified effort and the Zero Poaching Toolkit is the bedrock," said Elisabeth McLellan, WWF Head, Wildlife Crime Initiative. “Every tool, approach and pillar is a critical part of the whole and when used together will stop poaching, will protect and empower our wildlife heroes, and will ensure our wild places remains wild for future generations."
If countries follow this approach, zero poaching is possible. In early May, Nepal marked its 4th year of zero poaching of rhinos since 2011 due to a combination of high level political will, motivated rangers, cooperation with the military, and increased community involvement.
“The Nepalese government is committed to zero poaching and we have shown that a comprehensive approach can yield remarkable results: no rhinos have been poached here for over 750 days,” said Fanindra Raj Kharel, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation of Nepal. “The zero poaching toolkit is an important resource for countries, which can adapt the tools to their specific conditions and use them it as a benchmark to assess their progress towards achieving zero poaching.”
And progress is being made. Zero poaching was discussed at the Tiger summit in Delhi and at recent WWF workshops in Central Africa and Tanzania.
"More countries must follow Nepal’s lead and adopt a comprehensive zero poaching strategy, which is the only way to tackle the current surge in wildlife crime that is increasingly driven by organised international criminal networks,” said Singh. “The zero poaching toolkit will help governments to plan and implement an effective anti-poaching programme that will save species and improve security and sustainable development.”
And it is a view echoed by a host of other organisations committed to the fight against wildlife crime.
Dr Simon Stuart, Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission: “As a result of illegal wildlife trade, several species, especially in Southeast Asia and West Africa, are now very close to extinction. For these species, zero poaching is not a theoretical ambition; it is a necessity. Zero poaching is best achieved when strong law enforcement works hand-in-hand with local community engagement.”
Alexa Montefiore, SMART Partnership, Program Manager: "The Zero Poaching Toolkit is a great resource for protected area managers, rangers, national and local agencies, and community organizations, among others, to help address poaching and other critical threats facing wildlife. We are pleased that SMART is included among other important tools, resources, and capacity recommendations to create a holistic approach to protected area management.”
Theresa Sowry, CEO of the Southern African Wildlife College: “A capable and highly skilled ranger force on the ground together with aerial and canine support is definitely a deterrent against poaching. Couple that with political will, sustainable community development and beneficiation from the wildlife economy, and zero poaching many no longer be an unrealistic dream for all of us.”
Naomi Doak, Head of Conservation Programmes, United for Wildlife: “Providing easy access to some of the key tools available to those working in the field to protect the world’s wildlife is incredibly important. We can’t expect rangers to continue to risk their lives to save the world’s iconic species without the best available tools. There are lots of wonderful options to support their efforts and making these tools accessible in one place is a huge step towards zero poaching. United for Wildlife is proud to be a supporter of the zero poaching toolkit.”
David Higgins, Head of Environmental Security, INTERPOL: “A well-coordinated, intelligence-led response is required from law enforcement to dismantle criminal networks and achieve zero poaching. Local communities, civil society, and other stakeholders have a very important supporting role to play.”
Dr John Goodrich, Senior Tiger Programme Director for Panthera: “The Zero Poaching Toolkit provides a myriad of ways organizations can collaborate and seek support in the fight against wildlife crime and for the protection of endangered species like the tiger that will soon be wiped out from our planet if the poaching crisis is unchecked.”
Dr Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General, Global Tiger Forum: "Zero poaching tools are of great help to the frontline rangers and managers to effectively evolve their protection strategy on ground. The Forum encourages all tiger range countries to adopt these tools."
Dr Barney Long, Director of Species Conservation, Global Wildlife Conservation: “The Zero Poaching toolkit is the single and only place that rangers and ranger departments need to go to find the best practices to address poaching across the entire zero poaching framework. All the Zero Poaching partners stand ready to support rangers identify and implement these best practice tools in order to best empower rangers to deter poaching.