Tanzania to Host Summit on Wildlife Crime
On November 7 and 8, the country that has arguably become ground zero for elephant poaching in Africa will host a summit aimed at intensifying the regional response to wildlife crime in East Africa, while also encouraging greater cross-border collaboration on wildlife management.
Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, in partnership with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, has invited representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and other African nations to the two-day event in Arusha, as well as representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Bank, the UN Development Programme, and a number of conservation organizations, including the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
“Tanzania is home to the second-largest population of elephants in Africa but we’re losing close to 11,000 elephants each year to poaching because of the demand for ivory,” says African Wildlife Foundation Maasai Steppe Landscape Director John Salehe, who will be chairing the 1st day of the event. “Ground zero of the poaching crisis is here, and so it makes sense that the regional summit is here too.”
Tanzania has intensified efforts in recent years to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking, and recently released a new national anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trade strategy. For several years, AWF has worked closely with the Tanzania National Parks (or TANAPA) and other conservation partners on the ground to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking. Efforts have included:
- Supporting anti-poaching patrols by community scouts in a wildlife corridor between Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, effectively shutting down elephant poaching in the corridor;
- Working with wildlife authorities, game scouts and local NGOs in Tanzania and Kenya to conduct cross-border anti-poaching patrols, which has led to the arrest of several elephant poachers and drastically reduced elephant poaching in those areas;
- Conducting magisterial and law enforcement trainings in East Africa, leading to harsher sentencing of convicted elephant poachers;
- Together with TANAPA, launching a “Wanted” billboard campaign that urges citizens to provide information to authorities about poachers and traffickers;
- Contracting a canine specialist team to train and station a team of sniffer dogs and their handlers at key seaports and airports in Central and East Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
AWF CEO Patrick Bergin, a member of the White House Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, will also attend the summit, along with AWF Senior Director of Conservation Science Philip Muruthi.
“The illegal wildlife trade is a local, regional and global problem, and it requires a local, regional and global response,” says Bergin. “AWF is committed to working with the Tanzanian government and other regional partners to protect their wildlife, which is a natural heritage we all treasure.”