Wild life trafficking, poaching continues gripping Horn of Africa

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The Horn of Africa is emerging as a region for wildlife crime both as a source and a transit route for illicit wildlife products and live animals and it was the focus of the 4th Steering Committee Meeting of the Horn of Africa–Wildlife Enforcement Network (HA-WEN) held on December 7th and 8th 2016 at Sarem International Hotel.

The meeting that was organized by the Horn of Africa–Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-REC&N), in collaboration with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and through its Wildlife Crime Prevention (WLCP) talked about devising a way forward for a concerted effort to protect wildlife in the Horn of Africa Region.

HA-WEN members currently consist of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. Increasing evidence shows that there is widespread trafficking of wildlife such as Cheetahs and animal products such as ivory, rhino horn, skins and shark fins in the Horn of Africa. Most these are destined to countries such as in the Arab Peninsula and Far East.

It was stated that until recently, prevention of wild life crime in the Horn has been neglected further increasing the number of activities around it.

With the Wildlife Conservation Program that is being implemented, work is being done by the Horn Of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network to build networks and linkages across civil society organizations and academia and encouraging a greater role and involvement of the local communities and indigenous institutions to prevent wildlife crimes, according to the steering committee.

It has also taken steps to support the establishment of HA-WEN to facilitate engagements among Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries to collaboratively prevent wildlife crimes.

Rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger products continue to command high prices among consumers, especially in Asia. The avid demand and the high prices are what are driving the increasing wildlife crime. Among some of the suggestion to end the illegal trafficking and poaching has been providing an alternative and sustainable livelihood for those that are involved in such crime as well as doing awareness creation work.