- The African Wildlife Foundation has pledged $25 million to projects aimed at combating the illegal wildlife trade across the continent over the next four years.
- The Nairobi-based NGO invests in outfitting wildlife rangers, training sniffer dogs to detect illicit shipments, and community-based development.
- AWF president Kaddu Sebunya emphasized the need to invest in homegrown solutions to the crisis when he announced the funding at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference, held Oct. 11-12 in London.
A prominent African wildlife conservation NGO has committed $25 million to help protect iconic fauna from poaching and habitat loss across the continent by investing in African institutions and people.
“We are seeing recovery and stabilization of some critical wildlife populations,” Kaddu Sebunya, president of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), said in a statement. “We know what is working and it’s time to scale up the investment to combat this serious threat.”
The Nairobi-based organization made the announcement on Oct. 11 during the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London. The money will complement more than $13 million that AWF says it has used to support projects aimed at countering the illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products.
“If we can keep wildlife safe from poachers, make wildlife products difficult to move around, actively involve key local players, and dampen the demand for wildlife products, then Africa’s magnificent animals have a fighting chance,” Philip Muruthi, AWF’s chief scientist, said in the statement.
Current AWF projects include training sniffer dogs credited with detecting the presence of more than 250 illicit shipments of wildlife products; engaging with communities to encourage economic development that also supports conservation; and equipping wildlife rangers with the tools they need to catch poachers.
This infusion of funds will go toward bolstering the capacity of authorities, specifically judges and prosecutors, to hold poachers and traffickers accountable, the group says. Along with continuing its efforts to protect habitat for animals such as elephants, rhinos and big cats, this investment in the capacity of African governments is directed toward giving them the tools to face this issue head-on.
“The trade routes trace back to decisions made on the ground, and while we are focusing this week on the commodities traded from dead wildlife, our interest is in seeing the living species remain part of modern Africa,” Sebunya said. “We know from our work that leadership at every level — from the families living in wildlife-rich areas to the heads of state — is an essential ingredient.”
Banner image of an African elephant by John C. Cannon/Mongabay.