Ethiopian Herald
Haftu Gebrezgabiher, November 22, 2017

The ministers responsible for wildlife conservation of the IGAD member
states; namely Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and
Uganda, have agreed to enforce the Regional Biodiversity Policy and the
IGAD Biodiversity Protocol for cooperation on the wildlife anti-trafficking.

IGAD Executive Secretariat Engineer, Mahboub Maalim underlined the need for
regional cooperation to protect wildlife poaching during the Addis Ababa
regional meeting held last week and attended by the responsible ministers
of respective member countries. The meeting was conducted with the aim to
implement and support multinational law enforcement efforts including the
Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network (HAWEN).

Taking in to account the African Strategy on Combating Illegal Exploitation
and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa adopted by the African
Union in 2015, the member countries have recognized that the IGAD region is
both a source and transit route for illegal wildlife and wildlife products
that are subject to illegal trade and trafficking.

Recognizing the fact that wildlife trafficking and other forms of wildlife
crime constitute a serious threat to the resources, communities and IGAD
region peace and security, thus the region should work collaboratively to
combat the menace.

Engineer Maalim further urged to enhance sustainable management of wildlife
anti-trafficking in the Horn of African region that the resolutions of IGAD
ministers responsible for biodiversity management on the regional
biodiversity protocol and related strategies adopted on July 14, 2017, in
particular resolution six to establish and strengthen regional networks,

The cooperation among the IGAD member states is necessary to end wildlife
crime in the IGAD region and effectively execute the wildlife enforcement
efforts of other regions and international organization.

Jessica Ba, Charge d’ Affairs of the US Mission to the African Union said
that starting from the year 2012, the US Embassy has been working with the
IGAD, the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center, Ethiopian Wildlife
Authority and the whole African region to lay the ground for the Horn of
Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network (HAWEN) initiative that is now realized.

The initiative is the indicator of IGAD’s and member countries’ commitment
to fight against wildlife trafficking, Ba underscores. “Wildlife protection
is not only the issue of environment, but it is also health, economic and
above all peace and security issue on a global scale. Wildlife trafficking
has devastating impact on both animals and people. It threatens security,
undermines the rule of law, fuels corruption, hinders economic development
and affects the natural resources at large.”

Illegal trade of wildlife smuggling constitutes the theft of national and
community resources that can generate an estimated 20 billion USD dollars a
year for transnational organized criminal networks she said adding that
this money is fueling the international crimes.

According to her, this extended global problem calls states for cooperation
and coordinated efforts at global, regional, national and local levels to
end the global crime.

The US America encourages the AU and member countries to collaborate and
curb wildlife smuggling.

Concerning the HAWEN, she said the Network would exert utmost effort to end
up the problem of wildlife illegal trade; indeed, that it can be the best
practice for other regions.

Therefore, Ba confirmed that the US government will work in collaboration
with the AU member states and the HAWEN particularly to the law enforcement
to evolve in the most importantly under the leadership of Africa. The HAWEN
is an important step to this end, she underlined.

Ethiopian Culture and Tourism State Minister Meaza Gebremedhin for her part
said that Africa is globally recognized as one of the world’s biodiversity

The region has the potential to benefit from the considerable wildlife
resources through tourism and legal wildlife export. However, nowadays,
these natural resources are at greater risk than ever before. The
conservation of wildlife habitat is at risk due to over exploitation,
poaching and illegal trafficking.

“The Horn though has ample natural resources, considerably it is losing its
spectacular species such as elephants, big cat, pangolin as the result of
illicit wildlife trafficking. If this could continue to happen, the region
would totally lose its wildlife species.”

The absence of organized intergovernmental efforts to wildlife trafficking
has created a great rift and threatens the security of nations. Therefore,
the establishment of the HAWEN will be helpful to address the problem and
serve as a formal platform for member countries and thereby to enhance
economic integration and cooperation through encouraging tourism, Meaza

The HAWEN has been drawn from the mandate of IGAD in Article 17 of the
agreement to establish specialized technical institutions and networks for
purposes of developing, implementing and monitoring regional policies,
strategies, programs, projects and initiatives cognizant to the wildlife
situation in the region to enforce laws to end wildlife trafficking.

This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.