Legal wildlife trade is good (Namibia)


Namibian Sun

Date Published

Thank you to Anne Dillon for volunteering her time to find this article. 

The deputy minister of environment and tourism, Tommy Nambahu, told an international conference on illegal wildlife trade that efforts should be made to promote the legal trade of wildlife. Otherwise, he told delegates, conservation programs that create incentives for communities living with wildlife will completely collapse.

Nambahu was speaking at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade that took place last week where more than forty governments reaffirmed their commitment to eradicate illegal wildlife trade. Nambahu said illegal wildlife trade is a scourge that calls for the collective resolve of the international community to bring it to a complete halt.

He said Namibia is concerned about the increased demand levels for illegal wildlife products, which undermine conservation endeavors. “This unsustainable trade will deprive nations of their natural capital and cultural heritage thus undermining sustainable development.” Nambahu said that Namibia implemented actions and measures adopted under the London Declaration and the Kasane Statement and reaffirmed its commitment to continue implementing the outcome of similar conferences going forward. He added that Namibia has proposed to amend its legal framework to provide for severe punishment of wildlife crimes and the amendment bill will soon be tabled in parliament. “We have strengthened our law enforcement measures and we continue to give rural communities a meaningful role in conservation of natural resources.”

According to him, Namibia’s conservation program is underpinned by strong community involvement because the country recognizes community as an important stakeholder in the protection of wildlife. He said the community is granted rights to benefit from wildlife by using the resource in a sustainable way. This is done through consumptive measures such as hunting and non-consumptive measures—for example, eco-tourism. Both forms of utilization generate jobs and earn an income for the community.

“We have made significant strides in this regard and we remain willing to share our experiences with any interested party.” He added that Namibia strongly feels that there should be a clear distinction between illegal and legal wildlife trade.

“Efforts should be made to promote legal trade or else some of its successful conservation programs which are based on creating incentives for the local community who live with wildlife will collapse completely.” Namibia has recently been at the forefront calling for the legal trade in ivory. The Hanoi Conference concluded with a stakeholder roundtable on the implementation of the Hanoi Statement and sessions that looked at the next steps needed to eradicate markets for illegal wildlife products, ensure effective legal frameworks, and strengthen enforcement and sustainable livelihoods.

Despite growing international momentum to tackle wildlife crime, the global poaching crisis and the surge in illegal wildlife trade are both showing few signs of abating—largely because many countries are not living up to their commitments.

At least 1,377 rhinos and around 20,000 elephants were poached in Africa last year. Pangolins continue to be trafficked out of southeast Asia and Africa in vast numbers, while India has lost seventy-six tigers to poaching this year—the highest number since 2010.