Africa fights back against wildlife poachers, but drought is devastating
Alpha Media Group
AFRICA IN BRIEF
Elephant populations are starting to recover in parts of Africa as law enforcement agencies and local communities turn the tide in their long-running battle against wildlife poachers and traffickers. But criminal gangs are constantly shifting tactics and exploiting other species, while the greatest threat now is posed by the severe drought devastating swathes of East Africa, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, threatening famine in Somalia, and killing off wildlife and livestock. “Poaching of big game is going down in most countries,” says Didi Wamukoya, senior manager of Wildlife Law Enforcement at African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), noting that poaching in Kenya and Tanzania of large iconic species for the international wildlife trade is now very rare. Elephant population numbers in those two countries are now increasing. It is a particularly dramatic turnaround for Tanzania, which lost some 60 percent of its elephants within a decade. Wamukoya, who heads AWF’s capacity training of law enforcement agencies to prosecute cases of wildlife trafficking, warns that criminals adapt. While elephants are faring better – also in part because major markets such as China have banned domestic trade in ivory — gangs trafficking to Asia are switching to other species, such as lions for their body parts, pangolins, and abalone.