UNDP Administrator Calls for more Global action to save African Wildlife
At the closing of a two-day high-level anti-poaching conference in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, the UNDP Administrator Helen Clark called upon governments around the world to support initiatives against illicit wildlife trade. She said that this trade represents a development, environmental, and security challenge that is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction, fuelling corruption and conflict, and putting community livelihoods at risk.
Sustainable livelihoods, stronger enforcement and demand reduction: Speaking to the participants, Helen Clark drew attention to the three elements that could mitigate against poaching; strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and creation of stable income generating activities. She also called governments around the world to fight elephant poaching and illicit trade in wild life products because this destroys natural resources for future generations and directly contributes to poverty in the affected communities.
It is evident that poaching of elephants and illegal ivory trade in Tanzania and across Africa has increased tremendously in recent years and poses a threat to elephant survival. Elephant poaching and illicit ivory trade are major concerns in Africa and beyond, with security, economic, political and ecological ramifications as these crimes increase in frequency and severity.
A key conference for the future of wildlife: With high-level national and international actors in conservation and development, the conference was convened to articulate a national collective commitment to combat wildlife crime and advance wildlife conservation through a set of specific actions that will curb the increasing poaching of elephants, wildlife trafficking and illicit ivory trade. The conference outlined key actions needed to arrest wildlife poaching; stop illegal wildlife trafficking; identify better strategies to engage local communities in wildlife conservation; and enlist the assistance of religious leaders and industry champions to spread awareness of wildlife crime. It also identified ways to improve regional coordination in combating wildlife crime and facilitating wildlife conservation; and addressing global demand for illegal wildlife products. The conference further built on the extraordinary attention and commitment demonstrated through a range of global initiatives and meetings to address wildlife crime by focusing on the actions needed at the national level to translate sentiment into action.
The Administrator emphasised UNDP’s commitment to supporting initiatives against wildlife trade, contributing through combined global and country level presence and bringing its expertise in governance, the rule of law, poverty eradication, and environmental protection in collaboration with governments and other partners. “At national level, law enforcement efforts need to be boosted to ensure greater levels of cooperation through the creation of wildlife crime units, bringing together rangers, the police, intelligence and other security services in the functional operational context.”
Tanzania Wildlife Authority Announced: In order to increase efficiency and effectiveness of conservation measures, Tanzania has established the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) to streamline wildlife management in wildlife areas outside core protected areas. TAWA is a semi-autonomous authority which will retain revenues generated from wildlife utilisation, to increase efficiency of wildlife management. The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu reiterated the Government commitment to curb poaching and trafficking of wildlife noting that the “Tanzania National Parks Authority has a mandate over 57,000 square kilometres and TAWA will supervise and monitor all wild life areas outside the parks.”
The conference participants included senior government officials, diplomats and international development partners, regional non-governmental organisations, environmental conservation experts, multilateral organisations.