By Thandy Tebogo/Press Release
Wildlife crime has become an international problem, usually driven by people that have never lived close to the natural resources that they are exploiting, says President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
The President, who was addressing the Elephant Summit in Gaborone on Tuesday, December 3, said those engaged in illegal exportation and importation of wildlife would thrive, while those living in close proximity and dependent on these same resources would suffer endless opportunity costs.
President Khama said Africa’s elephants did not escape the challenge as they had increasingly become the focus of crime. He noted that, as trade became increasingly controlled by international networks of organised criminal, challenges at the national level also grew.
Environmental ministries, he said, were often overwhelmed, citing the need of collaboration, cooperation and commitment of other sectors of governments such as police, defence forces, finance, customs, the judiciary and foreign affairs to help address and hopefully overcome the increased challenge.
The growing trade in illegal ivory, he said, was a national issue, not sectoral , stating that for many of the African countries, it required leadership, commitment and direction at the highest political level to ensure that the necessary resources were made for a highly approach to law enforcement. President Khama said Botswana was proud that it was home to a healthy elephant population.
He observed that while Botswana had challenges in managing the impacts of elephants on their habitats and conflict with local communities, the country considered itself fortunate that illegal off-take had not yet become a serious threat to elephants.
He said the African range had joined forces, developed and committed to the African Elephant Action Plan, which provided a good framework for dedicated action to conserve the species, adding that some countries were ramping up enforcement, both in protected areas and at the ports and borders. More....