Arusha — A two-day Regional Summit to stop Wildlife Crime and Advance Wildlife Conservation was officially opened today by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania HE Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
President Kikwetye, who was represented by his Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hon. Lazaro S. Nyalandu (MP), disclosed to the over 200 delegates attending the Summit that his government had formulated a National Strategy to Combat Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in order to intensify the war against poaching and all forms of wildlife related crime.
The strategy provides an effective programme of support to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking in Tanzania through a three-pronged approach, namely; strengthening law enforcement; increase capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities and eradicate poverty; and raising awareness in supply, transit and destination countries to help change attitudes towards wildlife crime and building international support.
In his welcome remarks, the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera said that the tourism industry contributes close to 7.5% – 10% of the foreign exchange required by the EAC Partner States. “Despite this importance, the tourism sector is still one of greatly threatened by several factors ranging from poaching, illegal wildlife trafficking, deforestation and habitat shrinkage, climate change and global economic meltdown”, noted the Secretary General.
He said poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking robs EAC Partner States of their natural capital and cultural heritage with serious economic and social consequences. “It undermines the livelihoods of dependent communities and damages the health of the ecosystems they depend on”.
Amb. Sezibera said that the high levels of poverty, weak governance (measured by law enforcement capacity and corruption) together with demand for ivory in developed nations were the factors said to be linked to higher poaching levels and that, as a region, there is need to put in place robust policies to curb the menace.
The EAC Official affirmed to the delegates that, as a region, a draft strategy to combat poaching and illicit trade in wildlife had been put in place. The objective of the strategy, among others, is to strengthen policy and legislation framework in combating poaching and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products; to develop and enhance human resource capacity in wildlife conservation and wildlife laws enforcement; and strengthen the regional and international collaboration in combating poaching and trafficking of wildlife resources.
The Regional Summit is being attended by, among others, the US Undersecretary of State, Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment, Ms. Catherine Novelli; Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries of Natural Resources, Wildlife, Tourism, Water, Environment, Trade and Investment, Lands, Urban Planning, Information and culture from EAC and other African countries; Members of Parliament; Diplomatic Corps; Development Partners; Directors of Wildlife, Ant-Poaching, National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Areas; Regional Business Leaders; and Representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations.
The two-day event is focusing on actions that Tanzania and its neighboring countries may take to combat wildlife crime and advance wildlife conservation in the region. Deliberations will be on three major areas – wildlife crimes, migratory wildlife and shared ecosystems and will result in key agreements and actions to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
East Africa Community (EAC) through the Treaty for its establishment, in particularly Articles 111, 115 and 116 committed to ensure sustainable conservation and management of regional wildlife, tourism and natural resources.
Partner States recognize that restoration and protection of the environment and natural resources opens the door to sustainable socio-economic development in the region. As a step toward maximizing benefits and ensuring sustainable exploitation of natural resources, EAC Secretariat initiated the development of the Protocol on Tourism and Wildlife Management to enhance regional collaboration in wildlife management.
The Protocol and Tourism Marketing Plan which were concluded in 2006/2007 seeks to support regional economic development by promoting tourism and proper management of natural resources.
Owora Richard Othieno,
Head of Department;
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs;
Tel: +255 784 835021;
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department