Africa’s efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade and support sustainable development got a boost last week, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the African Union Commission and international nongovernmental organization Traffic.
Under the agreement, the two parties will jointly support AU member states’ policies for environment, wildlife management and trade, as well as conservation.
It will act as a framework to combat illegal exploitation and trade in Africa’s rich wildlife with a joint goal of protecting flora and fauna on land, wetlands and marine ecosystems.
Traffic, a nonprofit working on the biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the trade of wild animals and plants, will provide the AU Commission and its member states with the latest evidence-based technical guidance to implement sustainable natural resource strategies that support national economies and local community development.
The nonprofit will also collaborate with and support the AU Commission in the effective implementation of the Green Recovery Action Plan, providing support especially to the biodiversity and nature-based solutions component. The plan aims to combat climate change and boost renewable energy in the continent.
Traffic will also assist the AU and its member states to prepare for and build relationships at multilateral summits such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Josefa Sacko, the AUC commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, said the memorandum is vital for safeguarding Africa’s wild biodiversity.
“We are welcoming TRAFFIC’s technical support and policy which stems from its evidence-based experience, on how to keep the use and trade of wild harvested flora and fauna at legal and sustainable levels, and on how to best combat any illegal trade and overexploitation threatening our biodiversity,” said Sacko in a statement.
She said AU is looking forward to cooperating with Traffic in preparation for key multilateral and bilateral forums, as well as for the environmental components of the Commission’s frameworks and partnerships.
Richard Scobey, executive director for Traffic, said the nonprofit is committed to improving the sustainability of Africa’s wildlife, environment and legal trade to support national economies and local development across the continent alongside the AU Commission.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, poaching syndicates are finding new trafficking routes to avoid law enforcement officers.
The foundation said limited collaboration among national agencies and across regions creates delays in deploying the appropriate response teams to address traffickers and handle smuggled wildlife products when they are caught.