Brazzaville, 30 April 2015 – Better coordinated intelligence and law enforcement, involving communities in Africa and working with transit and destination markets outside of the continent must be at the heart of all efforts to tackle the alarming illegal trade in wild flora and fauna, African States said here today at the closing of the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa.
Countries must urgently work with one another to coordinate anti-poaching operations, customs and police controls, as well as strengthen cross-border law enforcement to stop the killing of wild animals and convict poachers and their accomplices.
“The plundering machine is forging ahead. I urge the international community to further mobilize against environmental crime and to commit firmly for this cause, the same way they are engaged in the fight against climate change and other global challenges,” said His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo.
Curbing the demand needs to be a top priority, the participants added, pointing out that countries in Africa, speaking with one voice, should engage with destination countries to eliminate illegal markets and reach out to consumers about the dangers of the trade.
“This is a great step forward”, said Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. “Today, Africa is coming together to tackle this horrific trade, which concerns them all. We commit ourselves to supporting this roadmap as we move forward to implement our common strategy”.
“Stopping national riches from being sold out cannot happen without modernizing legal frameworks. In many countries, engaging legal reforms will be necessary to forestall corruption and complicity at the national and outside of origin countries,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The United Nations, through its specialized agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), expressed their continued commitment to support African countries to develop and finalize the African Common Strategy.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had lent his support to the conference emphasizing the need to extend every effort to put an end to environmental crime, especially the illegal trade in wildlife.
The value of wildlife crime, comprising fauna and flora, including logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, amounts to many tens and possibly hundreds of billions of US dollars a year, according to estimates of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNEP and INTERPOL.
Wildlife trafficking destroys biodiversity and ecosystems, undermining development and eroding livelihoods for millions of African citizens and their future. It also creates insecurity, fuelling conflicts and corruption, depriving countries of their assets, compromising the rule of law and dividing societies.
Participants at the conference also agreed that addressing rural poverty, creating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, and raising public awareness is a critical element in turning the tide on wildlife poaching.
“Using wildlife products and habitats responsibly, and developing sustainable tourism and other economic activities hold the promise of preserving biodiversity for present and future generations, while promoting economic growth and people’s well-being,” said Nik Sekhran, Head of Sustainable Development at UNDP.
"Illegal trade in wildlife is a serious transnational organized crime that no country or region can fight on its own. The draft strategy that is being proposed today in Brazzaville reinforces the need for a collective global, regional and national effort to counter these highly destructive crimes, working across source, transit and destination States," said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES.