Illegal wildlife trafficking: A cancer to biodiversity


Peter Makwanya, NewsDay

Date Published
The idea of a natural environment has its genesis in the Bible when God created a perfect world and described it as “very good” at the time of its completion. God also created humankind as stewards in order to manage the environment.
In his desire and dearest wish, God hoped and trusted that the human beings would be good stewards of the environment.
In other words, God gave the human kind dominion over the entire earth, animals included.

Due to the beauty of the environment, human beings appreciated some of the wonders of the world, which today are both natural and man-made.

One of the original wonders of the world which ironically was human made and has managed to stand the test of time is the great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Among the seven natural wonders of the world is our own ever refreshing and magnificent Victoria Falls.

We are told of the modern wonders of the world which include the English Channel Tunnel and the Panama Canal — one of the man-made wonders.

We can not rule out the concept of bias and subjectivity, especially in connection with projects such as the English Channel Tunnel, the CN Tower or the Panama Canal.

One silent wonder which was referred to in the Bible as, “. . . every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” is the animal kingdom.

The African continent, especially sub-Saharan Africa, was blessed with a variety of flora and

The sub-continent is abound with a variety species of lions, buffaloes, antelopes, crocodiles, fish, birds, elephants and rhinoceros currently being decimated for their hones and tusks at an astonishing rate.

The human being that was given dominion over creation in the beginning has been overwhelmed with greed and lust for money.

Prominent discourses describing illegal wildlife plunder and trade are ivory war, poachers, traffickers, ivory frenzy, smugglers, hedges of death, war against nature and battlefields, to say the least.

God’s stewards are now engaged in vicious battles to outsmart each other in poaching as syndicates across Africa.

The usual blame is quickly placed upon armed rebel organisations flourishing, especially in Central, North and Eastern Africa.

Names like al-Shabaab rebels in Somalia, Janjaweed in South-Sudan and rebels in Central African Republic are easy scapegoats.

One wonders if these are the same rebels who have killed more than 300 elephants using cyanide in Zimbabwe.

Are they the same rebels who are poaching rhino horns in South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania?

What about our new-found colonial masters and smart poachers, the Chinese, who are having a field day on the African continent?

Whenever and wherever there is illegal trade in ivory, why is it that the Chinese are found on the wrong side of the law?

Are the Chinese alone in these illicit acts or they collude with high-ranking government officials with an insatiable appetite for quick buck?

I mean those who “died for us” during the liberation struggle and are now enjoying the sweat of their toil and sacrifices.

If a dirty and wretched poacher is caught in the act, he receives a harsh sentence while those in top echelons of power are untouchable.

The question that one would ask is: Who is the real poacher? Is it the filthy and wretched hungry local whose main desire is meat and not thousands of dollars from largely the Chinese?

It is estimated that since 2009, trade in poaching escalated to 500kg of ivory seized worldwide. And what about that which is unaccounted for?

During the ongoing land redistribution exercise (for in Zimbabwe it never stops) some senior government officials were out-manoeuvring each other in the Save Valley Conservancy under the guise of wanting to acquire hunting rights.

Why is it that Botswana, far behind Zimbabwe in terms of literacy levels, always comes right in terms of conservation issues while we are failing to come out clean on these issues?

One wonders what kind of human kind African leaders are, who seem to care for themselves without regard to generations to

Ivory trading started in 1800 by the wealthy Westerners and if they were as ruthless as what we are witnessing today, would we be having a large variety of animals as we have.

The idea of eco-forests and game parks can never be realised in this country if we continue with the element of eco-freakiness.
The other surprising thing is that a large number of conferences for combating wildlife trafficking are initiated and held in so-called imperialist countries — United States (February 11 2014), United Kingdom (February 13 2014) and United Nations Conference on Global Programme for combating Wildlife and Forest Crime (May 2014).

The Kasane Conference on illegal Wildlife Trade, otherwise known as the Kasane Settlement, was held in Botswana (March 2015) and the other UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice known as the Doha Declaration was held in Qatar (April 2015).

These were the only two recent conferences held outside western countries.

Surely can countries without many wild animals to protect be seen to be leading in advocating against wildlife trafficking and forest crimes, while as Africans we continue to behave as if nothing is the matter?

Unless my research fails me, I am yet to hear of any conference on illegal Wildlife Trade and Forest Crimes that was held in China. If there is one to that effect, then my apologies.

Right now these crimes have now spilt into the Internet where illegal online poaching appears to be taking centre stage.
The Internet markets are thriving with all sorts of animal products and as such can we rightly say things have fallen apart and the situation has gone haywire.

This online market is quite sophisticated and will be difficult to eradicate.

Maybe Africa will work up from its slumber when there will not be any wild animals to talk about and when most men would have been trafficked to China for their bigger manhood.

Illegal wildlife trade is no longer an environmental issue only but also one that is highly political, self-centeredness and greed.