The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) last week passed a resolution calling for collective approach in anti-poaching programmes in the region.
This is a very important move that needs urgent implementation. Kenyan legislator, Mr Abubakar Ogle, moved a resolution calling for a halt to elephant killings and trafficking of ivory.
The resolution noted that investment in wildlife law enforcement in the region was manifestly inadequate to deal with emerging threats as a result of increased criminal cartels. According to the Tanzania’s Police Force, many of the elephant tusks smuggled from East African countries end up in Asia.
Poaching takes place at an alarming rate in the country – with an average of 30 elephants being slaughtered for their ivory each day. This translates to almost 10,000 elephants a year. Well-armed criminals kill elephants and rhinos for their tusks.
These are then used to make trinkets and folk medicines. It has often been reported that elephant tusks hidden in fertiliser bags and containers originating from East Africa were seized by customs in various Asian countries. The rise of poaching has killed the once-thriving tourism industry in sub-Saharan African countries.
The region traditionally attracts tourists who enjoy viewing the rich wildlife in game reserves. There should be cooperation in the region and international community to halt poaching.
The EALA members welcomed the creation of the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime involving the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), Interpol, World Bank and the US government.
The resolution thus called on EAC partner States to categorise elephant poaching and ivory traffic as an economic crime and a national and regional crisis. It is important for the EAC Partner States to co-operate to identify wildlife crime hotspots and conduct coordinated investigations and undertake joint crackdown on the vice.
At the same time, the region needs to eliminate any corrupt tendencies that abet poaching of elephants for their ivory.
In this regard, EALA urged the EAC Partner States to scale up engagement with regional and global enforcement agencies to crack down on key cartels and continue to use the services provided by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).
East African countries must join global efforts in protecting the elephants which are a valuable treasure. Tanzania Daily News, 26 August 2013