The Richardson Center for Global Engagement and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) co-hosted a forum today about the best ways to integrate state-of-the-art technologies and training methods into wildlife protection and enforcement in key parts of Africa. The effort kicked off in Washington, D.C. at a meeting of dozens of experts from government, NGOs, technology firms, and frontline conservation and enforcement officials who are working to identify and deploy promising anti-poaching practices and tools.
The Richardson Center also announced its plan to establish the first-of-its-kind, permanent ranger training school in the Republic of Congo, in collaboration with African Parks, based on a successful "poacher-to-protector" amnesty program, and create an international legal framework to dedicate funds raised from the forfeiture of seized assets to support anti-poaching efforts.
"Working together, we can transform wildlife conservation throughout Africa and the world," said Gov. Bill Richardson. "We know that reaching and protecting the most remote locations is no easy task. It takes applying the most advanced, real-time surveillance technology. It takes trained and committed rangers and guards. It takes an infrastructure that sustains the effort over the long haul. And it takes international cooperation and strategic planning. This partnership and these new resources will help us get there."
The illegal wildlife market has exploded in recent years, fueling a growing demand for elephant ivory, rhino horn, tiger products and other threatened species. Wildlife criminal groups—many of them "Mafia-style" gangs—that trade in illicit wildlife and wildlife products often act with impunity. Today, this illegal trade is the fifth most profitable in the world, with an estimated value of $10 billion annually.
More than 30,000 elephants are killed each year -- nearly 100 per day. A growing ivory demand in Asia, a thriving illegal international market and unstable political environments all contribute to a disturbing rise in poaching. More....