African Heads of State and US leaders discussed best practices and future steps in a 'Dialogue on Combating Wildlife Trafficking,' which took place during the US-Africa Leaders Summit.
The event aimed to build on progress made in addressing illegal trade, identify areas where the US and Africa could collaborate to combat wildlife trafficking and inspire youth to safeguard their natural heritage for future generations.
4 August 2014: African Heads of State and US leaders discussed best practices and future steps in a ‘Dialogue on Combating Wildlife Trafficking,’ which took place during the US-Africa Leaders Summit. The event aimed to build on progress made in addressing illegal trade, identify areas where the US and Africa could collaborate to combat wildlife trafficking and inspire youth to safeguard their natural heritage for future generations.
A record high demand for illegally traded wildlife products combined with weak institutions and inadequate prevention methods has contributed to an increase in illicit wildlife trade in recent years, according to the US Department of Interior (DOI). It explains that this trade has resulted in significant declines in animal populations, including for elephants and rhinoceros, and stresses that illegal wildlife trade is a global challenge that requires a global response.
The event featured President Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, President Pohamba of Namibia, President Gnassingbé of Togo and President Kikwete of Tanzania, in recognition of their roles in combating illegal trade. The leaders all agreed to work together to strengthen international and regional cooperation.
Speaking at the event, President Bongo Ondimba of Gabon asked the US to help eliminate the Chinese ivory market. African leaders also requested US assistance in surveillance technology, training, and professionalizing law enforcement agencies. Participants also stressed that wildlife trafficking needs to be addressed along with related conservation, economics, governance and security issues.
Noting that wildlife trafficking undermines economic development, leaders emphasized the importance of engaging local communities and youth in efforts to address illegal trade in wildlife. US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, in her remarks, stated the US’s commitment to work with African leaders, including youth, to stop poachers, end profits from illegal wildlife trade and protect wildlife.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced its commitment to new and continuing wildlife trafficking programs in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania at the event.
US President Obama hosted the US-Africa Summit in Washington, DC, US from 4-6 August. Participants included African leaders, senior US government officials from the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and the federal Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, Young African Leaders Initiative participants and NGO representatives. [Summit Website] [US Department of Interior Press Release] [Congo Basin Forest Partnership Press Release] [US Fish and Wildlife Service Blog on the Dialogue] [US Fact Sheet on Support for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking] [USAID Announcement]