South Africa hosts regional anti-poaching meeting



Date Published

CAPE TOWN: South Africa on Wednesday hosted an anti-poaching meeting of defense and security chiefs from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Taking place on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, the 4th Multilateral Forum of the Defence and Security Chiefs on Anti-Poaching kicked off with a pledge to stem the scourge of poaching.

The two-day meeting focused not only on legal issues pertaining to anti-poaching efforts, but also ways to ensure that the punishment meted out to those convicted of poaching in the region is standardized.

During previous anti-poaching multilateral meetings, it was noted that punishment for convicted poachers differed from country to country in the SADC region.

After much deliberation, the SADC countries have adopted a strategy that will boost efforts to combat poaching and trafficking in wildlife by introducing a common approach to combat the illicit transnational trade in wildlife, said South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said in her opening address.

Africa is home to most of the world’s surviving species of wild animals and plants and the SADC region in particular is unique and rich with an abundance of wildlife.

“This makes us prone to daily threats of poaching. But while we are faced with similar challenges, we also have similar opportunities to tackle this threat,” Molewa said.

The biodiversity and ecosystems play an important role in meeting the developmental objectives of the region, she said.

“The illegal killing and trafficking of our wildlife undermines our investments in the protection and conservation of our natural heritage,” the minister warned.

In recent years, the SADC region has experienced increased illegal trade and poaching of wildlife, especially elephants and rhino species.

This year’s meeting is attended by defense and service chiefs from defense forces of Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as senior officials from the departments of police, justice, environmental affairs and intelligence.

The first meeting of this kind was held in Botswana in 2014. Subsequent meetings were held in Zambia and Zimbabwe.