First Ever Africa-wide Plan to Tackle Illegal Trade in Fauna and Flora

First Ever Africa-wide Plan to Tackle Illegal Trade in Fauna and Flora
Thursday, 30 April, 2015
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

African Heads of State, government representatives and conservation experts have gathered in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo this week for the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa.

With 22 countries represented at ministerial level, the conference is seen as a political show of force by African nations making it clear they are determined to take a zero tolerance approach to wildlife crime, including poaching of elephants and rhinos, and illegal trafficking.

The conference will develop the first-ever Africa-wide strategy and action plan to tackle the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora.

“As highlighted in IFAW’s 2013 report Criminal Nature, wildlife trafficking destroys biodiversity and ecosystems, undermines development and erodes livelihoods for millions of Africans citizens,” said Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, Director France and Francophone Africa for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Sissler-Bienvenu said a 2013 study coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Society showed that between 2002 and 2013, 65 per cent of African forest elephants were killed.

“Nine per cent of remaining African forest elephants were poached for their ivory each year over the study period,” said Sissler-Bienvenu.

Congo Brazzaville has played a leading role in recent years in combating elephant poaching. The International Fund for Animal Welfare in collaboration with the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and Environment (MDDEFE), have partnered in a joint three-year project aimed at dismantling Congo’s illegal ivory markets.

The project began in 2012 and creates awareness among law enforcement agencies and promotes enhanced cooperation and capacity building.

“In calling for and arranging this important conference Congo has again taken the lead in getting African nations to work together to stamp out the scourge of wildlife crime,” said Sissler-Bienvenu.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso set fire to the country’s entire stockpile of almost five tonnes of ivory before an audience that included General Idriss Déby, President of Chad.

Addressing the gathering, President Nguesso said: "Forests and wildlife are part of our common African heritage but are disappearing at an alarming pace. We have a duty to work together, as a continent, to safeguard our unique biodiversity for present and future generations and to craft strong collective solutions to address this calamity."

The Brazzaville conference follows last June’s  23rd African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which urged African nations to apply zero tolerance approaches to combat wildlife crime and related activities.  Other recent meetings that have focused the continent’s attention on the need for action include a meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Cairo and Kasane conference on illegal wildlife trade, both of which took place in March.

The draft strategy and associated action plan formulated in Brazzaville will be reviewed at the next meeting of the African Union, to be held in South Africa in June.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Experts

Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Joseph Okori
Regional Director, Southern Africa and Program Director, Landscape Conservation
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy