"Poachers have killed elephants for their ivory for centuries, but the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Recently, authorities seized the most illegal ivory since they began keeping records of such seizures."
These words of warning were uttered by Matthew Lewis at an event hosted by the U.S. Consulate in Durban on August 06, 2013. Mr. Lewis is an expert on African species conservation with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) visiting South Africa on a Department of State funded speaker program.
He said that it is only a matter of time until the situation reaches a tipping point and that wildlife in South African is coming under increasing threat, given the rate of poaching.
The United States continues to partner with countries around the world to explore and implement solutions. U.S. President Obama's Executive Order of July 2013 "enhance(s) domestic efforts to combat wildlife trafficking [and\ ... assist(s) foreign nations in building capacity to combat wildlife trafficking."
Mr. Lewis spoke about his experiences working in Namibia on a project called Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE), a partnership between WWF and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). LIFE was established to shift communal rights of land and animals from the national government to local communities.
This paradigm shift helps local communities understand the economic benefits of their natural resources and encourages them to become stewards of their local wildlife. Members of the audience included a cross section of citizens working on local solutions and the ensuing dialogue explored workable options for South Africa. More....