By BUUMBA CHIMBULU in Harare
LOOSE border control and trade laws have significantly contributed to trafficking of wildlife products in Africa, thereby creating an extinction of species in the region through illegal poaching. Traffickers have taken advantage of the current weak trade laws and loose border controls, according to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Counter Wildlife Trafficking Director, Didi Wamukoya.
Ms Wamukoya stressed that most African countries have weak border control laws which pave way for wildlife traffickers to traffic animal products such Rhino and Elephant horns. She said traffickers were currently taking advantage of the weak laws in Africa to illegally poach animals and traffic their products. “This calls for stiffer penalties for those found guilty such as life sentence.
This has remained a challenge across Africa, despite some countries stiffening their laws,” she said yesterday at the Advanced Training in Environment Journalism in the Modern Age workshop in Harare. Ms Wamukoya said AWF was there offering support to governments to build capacity for officers manning the border posts to halt animal product trafficking.
AWF, she explained, was also offering support to welfare operations on wildlife. And AWF vice president for Conservation Science and Planning, Philip Muruthi, emphasised the need to deal with poaching as it had negative social and economic impact on communities.
Dr Muruthi explained that communities were not benefiting from conservation due to illegal poaching. “Poaching takes away all the social and economic benefits for communities and this has an impact on their livelihoods. It is therefore very important to attend to poaching,” he said.