By Joseph Checky Abuje
Leaders and Conservation organizations in East Africa have vowed to strengthen their synergies in an effort to tackle the lucrative Illegal Wildlife Trade that has seen a steady decline in wildlife globally.
The organisations which include World Wide Fund for Nature Kenya (WWF-K), International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN), The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and flora (CITES) and Africa Wildlife Foundation have been in the forefront to champion protection of the environment and are now calling for a collaborative approach together with the media in the effort to save the declining biodiversity in Sub- Saharan Africa.
Nancy Githaiga, head of Conservation programmes at WWF-K says East African Biodiversity is under threat. “We have witnessed invasive species, devastating effects of climate change on environment and poaching contributing to Environmental crimes, including Wildlife decline in the recent past,” says Nancy.
Speaking to stakeholders in the conservation fraternity across East Africa and beyond and the media during a three-day seminar on the role of women and youth in curbing IWT crimes, Nancy observed that 84% of freshwater living organisms in Eastern Africa are at the verge of extinction and called for a different multi-agency approach to bend the curve. More funding and investments towards nature will help stop the extinction of endangered species.
She noted that the inclusion of women and youth in the fight wildlife crimes should be given necessary capacity building to create more people-centred policies, adding that the two segments form an integral part of the society.
Statistics by Living Planet released recently have shown that globally, the wildlife decline is at 68%, with African continent alarming decline of 65% three points below the global rating. Poachers, adverse environmental factors like climate change have contributed immensely.
Harmonisation of policies within East Africa Community states and stringent anti-poaching measures in curbing environmental ills including but not limited to banning of bushmeat consumption are key for a better result against the deep-rooted IWT.
Enoch Sikolia is a veteran Kenyan journalist and says that youths have suffered exclusion in the ecosystem of fighting environmental crimes. They have not been given a voice. The industry players have not given attributes to youths who are making enormous contributions towards combating illegal wildlife trade in East Africa.
Sikolia revealed that poor remuneration and victimisation fears detract youths from giving their best input holistically.
It is evident that wildlife crimes work against the objective of sustainable wildlife conservation and is driving many species towards extinction. Local, regional as well as international cooperation to guarantee wildlife security with the journalist at the centre is the game-changer.
The call for cooperation comes in the wake of a surge in the killing of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife creatures over lucrative wildlife products business in Asia. This is a threat not only to biodiversity and wildlife population but economic development and livelihoods of millions of people who depend on tourism for a living.
Early this year, a consignment of ivory tusks and other wildlife products were intercepted and nubbed at the Kenya-Uganda border of Busia being smuggled into Kenya from Uganda by a Boda Boda rider.