On September 26th, German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank Walter Steinmeier and the President of Gabon Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba will jointly chair a high-level luncheon at the UN Headquarters in New York on “Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking.”
The event will bring together high-level representatives from countries affected by poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking, as well as senior representatives of international organizations and non-governmental organizations.
Participants include UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, President of the UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa and several heads of states, inter alia President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Ouattara of the Ivory Coast and President Mutharika of Malawi. The South African Minister of Environment, Bomo Edna Molewa, will also attend the lunch.
Entitled “Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking – Towards Joint Action by the International Community,” the main goal of the event will be to gain momentum for actions by the international community, including, for example, a general-assembly resolution against worldwide poaching and wildlife trafficking.
Germany stands firmly behind efforts to protect rhinos and elephants and the preservation of wildlife in general. It provides funding for projects in this area with a budget of approximately R 4 billion. These projects include training of gamekeepers in Wildlife Colleges, management of protectorates as for example the Kavango Zambesi Transfrontier Conservation Area or the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Another key activity is Germany’s cooperation with international NGO’s (i.e., WWF, Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), TRAFFIC). In addition to these partnerships, Germany established a fund in 2013 (“Polifonds”) with a volume of approximately R 457 million to fight global poaching through training, reduction of demand in Asia and promotion of international cooperation of countries of origin and receiving states.
Poaching as organized crime
Over the last years, poaching has grown to one of the most lucrative forms of organized crime. The market value for a single rhino horn is estimated to be 210,000 US Dollars, a result of the great demand in Asian countries, mostly for traditional medicines. As part of organized criminal cartels, the poachers are heavily armed, creating serious challenges for both governments and the management of national park.
In 2013, more than 20,000 elephants and over a thousand rhinos were killed by poachers for their tusks and horns, threatening to push these animals to the brink of extinction and jeopardizing the livelihoods of the many people in the tourism sector.