Historic creation of a wildlife enforcement network begins in the Horn of Africa
I have just returned from Ethiopia where the International Fund for Animal Welfare teamed up with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, the Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Center and the U.S. Department of State on a historic two-day wildlife trafficking workshop designed to help pave the way for developing a wildlife enforcement network for the Horn of Africa Region.
The event marks first time countries in this geography have gathered to deliberate the establishment of a formal mechanism for regional cooperation to address wildlife trafficking.
For the uninitiated, the Horn of Africa Region is considered both a source and transit point for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products.
The workshop was held at the African Union Conference Center in Addis Ababa and opened by Her Excellency Mrs. Tadelech Dalacho, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Culture and Tourism who reinforced the Ethiopian government’s determination to control illegal wildlife trafficking. His Excellency also signaled his country’s readiness to work with regional and international partners to curb wildlife trafficking in the Region.
In delivering remarks on behalf of the United States government, his Excellency Mr. Michael Battle, the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, emphasized the need for closer cooperation across borders in the Region and highlighted the U.S.’s commitment to fight global wildlife crime.
All parties recognized by the fight against wildlife trafficking is not only about protecting wildlife but also contributing to the development of the continent and to a more secure and stable Africa.
The participants including: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, and South Sudan plus other players who were there such as the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), CITES, Freeland Foundation, TRAFFIC, WCS, EU, and GIZ all endorsed the need for a wildlife enforcement network in the Horn of Africa Region to combat wildlife trafficking and a steering committee was established with a mandate to pave the way for forming this network in one year.
Ethiopia was chosen as the lead country to chair the steering committee and IGAD was chosen as the possible platform to launch this network.
I personally was very pleased with the outcome of this workshop, the genesis of which came from a regional prevention of wildlife trafficking training workshop run by IFAW staff in Djibouti in 2011 where participants unambiguously signaled their interests in forming a wildlife enforcement network in this region for this specific purpose.
While this represents a major achievement for the Horn of Africa Region, there is much more work to be done to address the immediate challenges associated with wildlife trafficking at both the national and regional level.
Hence IFAW’s commitment towards longer-term capacity building efforts here to increase the capacity of wildlife law enforcement agencies. Our efforts will be focused on better detection, monitoring and interdiction of wildlife contraband.
I was very proud to be part of a global team helping to pave the way for creating a wildlife enforcement network for the Horn of Africa Region.