blogs.fco: The fight against the illegal wildlife trade CAN be won
This week the UK hosts a conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, bringing together global leaders to work together to end wildlife crime. Here two conference delegates from Africa pen a guest blog for the Foreign Office on what they’ll put into the conference – and what they expect to get out of it.
“What I’m really looking forward to at this week’s IWT conference is the main meeting and some of the side events. Our team from the African Wildlife Foundation has pre-selected the sessions we’ll be attending to share our experiences and learn from others working to curb IWT.”
African leadership is key
The African voice and leadership is key to winning the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. This voice involves communities up to the highest political level. But the battle against the illegal trade must be placed within the broader context of conservation, livelihoods and sustainable development. Illegally trading in wildlife makes it so much harder for wildlife to play its meaningful role in Africa’s sustainable development. The fight against the trade can be won. But it will take concerted efforts especially by Africans.
‘Constantly changing their tactics’
Looking forward, governments must set clear policies and legislation towards curbing the illegal wildlife trade. They must action those laws. They must invest appropriately and allow other players to invest in wildlife and wild land conservation. It goes without saying that governments must always seek to understand the magnitude of the illegal trade in wildlife and it impacts on citizens.
Poachers and illegal wildlife traffickers are constantly changing their tactics. They use new methods to poach, like dart guns and night goggles. They change their trafficking routes, change the packaging they use for illegal wildlife products, change the ways they conceal these products and the ways they transport them.
Law enforcers must adapt
Wildlife law enforcers need to adapt and be ahead of the poachers and traffickers. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has invested mostly in stopping the killing on the ground of elephants, rhinoceros, great apes, large carnivores and giraffes. This means working with communities on the ground to improve livelihoods so that poaching becomes a less attractive option.”