By Apolinari Tairo
In an apparent move to express his concern for the survival of African wildlife, US President Barack Obama launched an initiative in Tanzania aimed at combating illegal wildlife trafficking and curbing widespread poaching of rhinos and elephants in Africa. Announcing the US position on poaching crime before ending his official visit to Tanzania yesterday, Obama said his administration will put new energy and funds into fighting wildlife trafficking, which he cited “an international crisis that continues to escalate.”
Speaking to journalists with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Obama said, “Poaching and trafficking is threatening Africa’s wildlife, so today I issued a new executive order to better organize US government efforts in this fight so that we can cooperate further with the Tanzanian government and others.”
Obama’s executive order creates a high-level, inter-agency Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking. Within six months, the Task Force will develop a national strategy to fight wildlife trafficking “and to consider how the US transnational organized crime strategy can be used to combat the issue, as it does other serious crimes like human trafficking and arms trafficking.”
To this effect, the order will provide advice and assistance, and within six months the Task Force will create an eight-member Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking made up of people from the private sector, former US government officials, and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
“Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates,” the Executive Order states. More....