On Monday, SCI Foundation attended the first ever US – Africa Leaders Summit to participate in a discussion on the best ways to combat wildlife trafficking. The meeting hosted 50 African Heads of State, members of U.S. Congress, officials from United States government agencies and departments, NGO representatives, and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellows.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell led the discussion on anti-poaching efforts and future collaboration on best practices. The White House stated that the Summit “would highlight the depth and breadth of the United States’ commitment to the African continent.” President Obama heard Africa’s perspectives on how to better partner to combat wildlife trafficking and learned what international efforts are already in place.
“I was honored to receive an invitation to this event, because SCI Foundation has been urging the Administration to incorporate African leaders’ perspectives into the U.S. National Strategy on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking for almost eight months,” SCI Foundation President, Joe Hosmer said. “This was really the first time African leaders were included in discussions about the implementation of the U.S. National Strategy and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Task Force’s plan to curb poaching of wildlife in Africa.”
Recent studies completed by the CITES MIKE program and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have determined that poverty, weak governance, and demand for illegal ivory are the three key factors driving poaching. These key factors are not new, but they can be addressed with simple resources which make a huge on-the-ground impact. Expensive investments into high-tech equipment and solutions may not be the wisest investment in areas of weak governance and high poverty. Hopefully, discussion at the summit advised the U.S. government on such needs and provided an understanding on how best to move forward with implementation.
“SCI Foundation is on the ground in multiple African countries working to combat poaching and promote sustainable use,” said Matt Eckert, Deputy Director of SCI Foundation Conservation Programs. “We are providing essential resources to support anti-poaching efforts, and unfortunately, we are joined by only a few among hundreds of non-governmental organizations in doing the same. The NGO impact has the potential to be so much larger than it currently is, and perhaps this will be an achievement of the National Strategy’s commitment to developing public-private partnerships.”
The largest annual gathering of wildlife professionals, government wildlife agencies, and NGO’s working in Africa is at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum. This annual meeting, sponsored by SCI Foundation, will be held in Hawassa, Ethiopia on November 2 – 7. Learn more about AWCF here: http://www.safariclubfoundation.org/conservation/africaawcf
Members of the public can follow the U.S.-African Leaders Summit here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/us-africa-leaders-summit.
Nelson Freeman; email@example.com
Logo courtesy SCI Foundation