Barbary macaque protection begins with first-ever wildlife trade training in Morocco

To combat illegal wildlife trade in the Kingdom of Morocco, the High Commissioner for Waters and Forests and the Fight against Desertification (HCEFLCD) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) are sponsoring a specialized training this week to help wildlife enforcement officials detect and interdict illegal wildlife products and smuggled animals before they cross borders.

Forty workshop participants include representatives from Morocco’s departments of Customs, Wildlife, Veterinary and Agriculture; quarantine officers; and other authorities who deal with wildlife trade.

Morocco is highly regarded worldwide for its stunning natural habitats and wildlife diversity, but it holds 162 species listed in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendices. It also serves as an important strategic and commercial role in the important effort of blocking illegal wildlife trafficking to Europe.

Among the 162 CITES species is the Barbary macaque, a species that has suffered a decline in its wild population due to the illegal capture of babies that have been sold as pets throughout the world.

Although the Barbary macaque was declared an endangered species by the IUCN and listed on CITES’ Appendix II since the treaty’s establishment, it was upgraded on September 28, 2016, to Appendix I upon the consensus of representatives at CITES COP17, in Johannesburg.

The five-day workshop was inaugurated today by the Secretary General of the High Commissioner for Waters and Forests and the Fight against Desertification Abderrahim Houmy, who started by welcoming and thanking all parties involved and acknowledging the tireless contributions by the International Fund for Animal Welfare for saving and protecting animals around the world. Mr. Houmy also shed light on the significance of CITES due to the high level of wildlife trafficking.

Believing in the effective role played by the CITES Agreement on the protection of species from extinction, the Kingdom was one of the first countries to enter into the Agreement on October 16, 1975, and passed laws and decrees in 2015 to institute CITES directives.

The workshop addresses issues ranging from the strictures of CITES permits and appendices, national legislation, and information about national procedures including permit processing, handling of confiscated specimens, common species in trade between North Africa and Europe, and the challenges of combating wildlife trafficking in the region. It offers practical training and exercises by focusing on a range of species identification tools.

During the inauguration, IFAW President and CEO Azzedine Downes praised the spirit of the program saying: “This collaboration between the HCEFLCD and IFAW comes with a significant importance, as wildlife crime has become a serious threat to the security, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries and regions. We have long recognized the complexities of wildlife trade, and in response, we have worked hard to nurture and support inter-agency cooperation networks as a way to address them and combat this crime.”

We are thrilled to organize this workshop in collaboration with HCEFLCD. The training helps wildlife enforcement authorities gain the necessary knowledge, experience, and skills to combat illegal wildlife trade and promote inter-agency wildlife law enforcement communications through existing mechanisms.

The specialized training in Morocco is part of “Born to be Wild”, a program ensuring the sustainable protection of the endangered Barbary macaque. The program was initiated by AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection and is executed together with IFAW.

--EM

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