By Bashi Letsididi
With its abundant wildlife, Botswana is host to the fifth largest international criminal activity which the African Development Bank (AfDB) says is undermining Africa’s development as well as threatening peace and the rule of law.
“Over the last two decades, wildlife crime has developed into a multi-billion-dollar industry and is now considered to be the fifth largest international criminal activity after narcotics, counterfeiting, illicit trafficking of humans and oil,” says AfDB in the aftermath of its participation at last week’s emergency summit on illegal ivory trade in Gaborone.
The bank estimates that illicit trade in wildlife species amounts to US$10 billion yearly. In May this year, AfDB and the World Wildlife Fund launched a joint call (Marrakech Declaration) for action and commitment from governments and other institutions to combat the illicit wildlife trafficking across the continent.
The Declaration is summed up in a 10-point action plan to combat this trafficking. Subsequent to that, the board of the bank approved loans to Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic for the financing of the Central Africa Biodiversity Conservation Programme. At the launch of this programme, the bank’s president called upon African countries to collaboratively commit to fight international illegal wildlife trafficking.
AfDB was represented by the Resident Representatives of Zambia and Zimbabwe and by two experts from the Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department at the Gaborone summit. Some of the bank’s actions against elephant poaching and other wildlife trafficking operations were presented, including program to protect elephant in Central Africa, and the Marrakech Declaration.
The bank also presented its 10-year strategy to demonstrate possible linkages and support through the core priority areas. During discussion on resource mobilisation, it suggested that innovative financing was an option to pursue in the face of scarce resources and increasing needs to fight elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade.
The summit was attended by ministers and delegates from 30 participating countries, including elephant range states such as Gabon, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Niger, Zambia and Ivory Coast; transit states such as Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia; and ivory destination states including China and Thailand.
It also featured bilateral and multilateral organisations - German Society for International Cooperation, United States Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, European Union and the World Bank. More....