Combating wildlife trafficking is a priority for the United States, said Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission to the African Union, Jessica Davis, at a workshop on illegal wildlife trafficking held recently in Addis Ababa.
“To enhance cooperation and collaboration, we work closely with countries that are the sources of wildlife being trafficked and are building strong partnerships with demand and transit countries.”
“In addition to our extensive United States Agency for International Development investments in biodiversity conservation throughout Africa, our Department of State bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement invested USD 40 million in the last five years to combat wildlife trafficking in Africa,” she said.
The U.S. has also provided the African Wildlife Foundation 4 million dollars to strengthen regional law enforcement capacity to combat wildlife trafficking and support canine units in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon and Botswana.
As well, the Department of State gave the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 6 million dollars to strengthen prosecutorial and judicial capacity to combat wildlife crime by increasing prosecutions in Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana.
“Recognizing the value of scientific innovation,” Ms. Davis noted, “we provided almost 1 million dollars for wildlife DNA forensics to improve the collection and analysis of DNA evidence. Through this project in Gabon, Tanzania, and Kenya, our partnerships ensure that enforcement agencies and the scientific community leverage the potential of wildlife DNA forensics. Together, they are improving the production of intelligence generated from illegal wildlife seizures to disseminate data for law enforcement action.”
The U.S. also supports the Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network.
The purpose of the three-day workshop was to formulate a common language, or “data dictionary”, for the full range of Geographic Information System, or GIS, databases to allow interoperability and help harmonize information across the continent.
“Setting shared GIS database standards is critical”, said Deputy Chief Davis. “Given the growing sophistication of wildlife traffickers, no single law enforcement official or agency or nation, for that matter, can fight this battle alone,” she said. “This is our shared fight. Setting shared GIS database standards is critical to us all playing on one team.”