Gaborone- Botswana President, Ian Khama, has decried the high rate of wildlife poaching and trafficking worldwide, saying illegal wildlife trade is worth 10 billion dollars per annum.
Khama, who addressed the delegates at the international illegal wildlife trade conference in Botswana’s resort town of Kasane on Wednesday, said poaching had grown significantly.
“Endangered species are being poached at an alarming rate to satisfy the ever-growing demand in consumer states.
“Serious poaching incidents in source countries and large scale seizures at ports of exit and entry in transit and destination states have become more frequent in recent years,” he said.
Khama challenged nations to take decisive actions to combat wildlife trafficking to preserve ‘iconic wildlife species’ and avert extinction.
“In Botswana, we have resolved that no specie will ever become extinct in our country,” Khama said.
According to him, well funded organised crime groups and militias are taking advantage of weakness in legislation, institutional inadequacies and civil unrest to supply a seemingly insatiable demand for wildlife products.
“Wildlife trafficking is no longer simply about trade in wildlife and their parts and derivatives.
“Proceeds of trafficking are used to fund other crimes such as terrorism, arms and drugs trafficking,’’ he said.
Botswana has already deployed the military, police and the intelligence services to support the Department of Wildlife Anti-poaching Unit to combat poaching.
According to him, combating the threat to wildlife trafficking requires high level commitment from the international community.
He said it also required improved intelligence sharing, appropriate legislations and stricter penalties for wildlife crimes.
“As a country we are already working on greater penalties for such crimes in addition to the ban on hunting which we imposed two years ago,” he said. (PANA/NAN)