Why we are losing the battle to save wildlife
The first ever World Wildlife Day this week provided few reasons to celebrate. What’s going wrong?
By Paula Kahumbu
Last year the UN General Assembly voted to declare March 3rd World Wildlife Day, “to celebrate the fantastic diversity of life on earth” and “remind us of the urgency and responsibility to care for and protect it”. This date is also the anniversary of the creation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973.
In recent articles on this blog I have described some positive developments in Kenya’s ongoing battle against wildlife crime. The Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Keriako Tobiko, chose this day to announce a further significant move: the setting up of a fully-fledged and specially trained Wildlife Crimes Prosecution Unit.
More good news this week came from Nepal, which announced a full year of zero poaching of rhinos, tigers and elephants for period ending in February 2014. “A national level commitment is key to encouraging complementing efforts, right down to the grassroots, in order to address this biggest threat to wildlife” said Megh Bahadur Pandey, Director General of Nepal’s National Parks.
But there has been plenty of bad news too. Last week on the blog I reported the shameful decision of a Ugandan court to return 2.9 tonnes of smuggled ivory to the traffickers.
Overall the state of Africa’s wildlife looks bleak. Elephant ivory trafficking is at an all time high and populations are declining almost everywhere. Tanzania’s elephant population has declined by 66% since 2009. Rhino Poaching is also rising, with over 1,000 rhino killed in Africa in 2012. Rhinos are now extinct western Africa.
The immediate threat to wildlife in Africa is from illegal trafficking of wildlife products. This is now a huge global business, controlled by organised crime. The reasons why the battle against the traffickers is being lost are simple to describe, but hard to put right.
After reading the text “Why we are losing the battle to save wildlife”, one can infer that the main objective of the author was to