(eTN) – Cabinet ministers responsible for wildlife conservation from seven African countries are meeting in the Tanzanian capital city of Dar es Salaam discussing cooperative enforcement operations directed at illegal trade in wildlife and plants.
The Tenth Governing Council of the Parties to the Lusaka Agreement meeting has been preceded by a two-day nature conservation meeting of experts since Wednesday this week, before the ministerial council meeting this Friday.
Senior wildlife conservationists have been discussing implementation of the Lusaka Agreement on wildlife conservation and protection of wildlife in Africa and enforcing cooperation among member states and parties in reducing and eliminating illegal trade in wild animals and plants on this continent.
According to reports from the Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism – the governing council which is the policy and decision-making organization of the Lusaka Agreement – comprises ministers responsible for wildlife and forestry from member states overseeing the implementation of the agreement.
The meeting will review reports and proposals of the implementing organizations, mainly the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, which is the secretariat and implementing arm of the agreement, as well as the National Bureaus which are designated or the established national implementing entities of the parties. The outcomes of the meeting are council decisions to guide the implementation of the agreement.
Currently there are seven member states to the Lusaka Agreement, which are Congo (Brazzaville), Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Ethiopia, South Africa, and Swaziland are signatories, looking to join the agreement later.
Dignitaries to attend the meeting are Tanzanian Minister for Tourism Ezekiel Maige; the Minister for Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and Environment of Congo Brazzaville Henri Djombo; the Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage of Uganda Agnes Enguyu; Kenyan Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Dr. Noah Wekesa; Deputy Minister for Mines and Natural Resources of Zambia Richard Musukwa; and Mr. Bonaventure Ebayi, the Director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force.
The governing council of the parties to the Lusaka Agreement on cooperative enforcement operations is directed at monitoring and controlling illegal trade in wild fauna and flora.
Intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), conservation partners, law enforcement institutions, and conservation agencies are represented at the meeting.
Professor Pius Yanda of the University of Dar es Salaam will this Friday give a keynote address titled, “Wildlife Conservation Challenges and Opportunities in Africa: The Case for Enhanced Cooperation and Integration.”
The meeting is timely especially in the wake of increased poaching and illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, particularly the endangered African elephant and rhino owing to an increase in demand from the Asian markets, the report said.
The Lusaka Agreement on cooperative enforcement operations directed at illegal trade in wild fauna and flora was the brain-child of Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers from eight Eastern and Southern African countries meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in December 1992, under the auspices of Zambia’s Ministry of Tourism.
Tanzania and Zambia are lobbying through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to get permits to sell their ivory stockpiles. Tanzania has a stockpile of over 100 tons of ivory at its ivory room in Dar es Salaam worth over US$120 million.
Zambia wants to sell 112 tons of ivory, and all have submitted proposals that would allow the sale through an international, monitored auction. Kenya had last year voted against Tanzania and Zambia’s proposal during the CITES conference of parties held in Doha, Qatar .
International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, but since then, CITES has agreed several “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory on condition that the proceeds were spent on elephant conservation.
Wildlife is the leading tourist attraction in most African countries south of Sahara, including Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, and Kenya – all facing poaching of elephants and other animals listed in “Big Five” tourist attractions.