New York – A UN-backed partnership fund has approved 40 million dollars to expand its support for global programme fighting against illegal trafficking to a total of 19 countries in Africa and Asia.
The expansion for the Global Wildlife Programme was approved by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with contributions from the Asian Development Bank and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Other organisations contributing to the programme are the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank Group and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, said in a statement that was issued on Friday that humans, not animals only, are devastated by poaching.
“The victims of wildlife crime are not only the animals and ecosystems that are devastated by poaching and trafficking, they are people as well.
“The human cost of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife is measured in lives lost to the criminal networks involved and livelihoods destroyed by the erosion of a natural economic foundation.
“Ending the illegal trade in wildlife requires a concerted and cooperative effort between all sectors.
“These new projects will further these efforts and help bring us closer to ending wildlife crime once and for all,” he said.
According to him, the Global Wildlife Programme was specifically established to address the growing poaching crisis and an international call to action.
Steiner said the value of illegal trade has been estimated at between 10 and 23 billion dollars per year.
He said this has made wildlife crime the fourth most lucrative illegal business after narcotics, human trafficking and weapons.
He said that the new 131 million dollars agenda was expected to leverage 704 million dollars in additional co-financing over seven years.
“The national projects aim to promote wildlife conservation, wildlife crime prevention, and sustainable development in order to reduce adverse impacts to known threatened species from poaching and illegal trade.
“Additionally, a global coordination grant from the GEF will strengthen cooperation and facilitate knowledge exchange between national governments, development agency partners and leading practitioners,” the UNEP chief said.
Ms Naoko Ishii, GEF Chairperson, said that poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking was reaching unprecedented levels, robbing the livelihoods of local communities and eroding the global commons.
“In response, the GEF has launched a major international effort to help tackle the supply, trade and demand for wildlife products.
“Importantly, the project is not only about stopping the slaughter of animals in the forests and savannas of Africa, and it also aims at reducing the demand in Asia,” Ishil said.
Also, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said that, wildlife poaching and the illicit trade of wildlife and forest products are abhorrent.
“This multi-billion dollar worldwide trade is a security issue, an environmental issue, and a development issue, and it is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction.
“The illicit trade is also fuelling corruption and conflict, destroying lives, and deepening poverty and inequality.
“ If not addressed decisively, illicit poaching and wildlife trade will have significant national economic impacts,’’ she said.
In June 2015, the GEF approved 10 national projects from Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia.
This year announcement expanded the program to strengthen the capacity of Governments to combat poaching and trafficking of wildlife, and wildlife products in key range and transit countries that are in the front lines of combating wildlife crime.
The nine additional countries include Afghanistan, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Activities in the Global Wildlife Programme in the source countries will include enhancing anti-poaching tracking and intelligence operations, increasing the size of conservation areas. (PANA/NAN)