Minister Edna Molewa receives equipment to combat illegal wildlife trafficking from the United States of America
30 January 2016
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has held talks with her US counterpart, Secretary of the Interior Ms Sally Jewell yesterday, 29 January 2016. Secretary Jewell is visiting several African countries to deepen cooperation around a number of environmental issues, particularly the illegal wildlife trade that continues to decimate species on the continent.
Minister Molewa received a donation of survival, surveillance, and investigative equipment on behalf of South Africa at a ceremony in the Kruger National Park, which is the epicenter of the rhino poaching epidemic. The US equipment donation, valued at $750,000 will aid South Africa’s efforts to combat fight wildlife crime, and rhino poaching in particular.
This donation is part of a $3m in funding support pledged to by US President Obama during his state visit to South Africa in 2013. The funding comes through the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and clearly demonstrates the increased focus on combatting wildlife trafficking across Africa, as laid out in the 2014 National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.
Earlier this month Minister Molewa announced in the report back on the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros that rhino poaching has stabilized in South Africa for the first time in a decade. By the end of December 2015, the number of poached rhinos was 1 175, of which 826 were in the Kruger National Park. By the end of December 2014, the number of poached rhinos stood at 1 215.
"The Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros announced in 2014, continues to yield significant successes. It is further evidence that collaborative efforts between Government’s security cluster, non-governmental organisations, private sector, donors and the international community are working, " says Minister Molewa.
“We are truly grateful for the support of the US government who continue to work with us as we intensify our fight against wildlife crime in South Africa, " adds Minister Molewa.
“We know that if we are going to address this scourge, it will require international cooperation at all levels of government,” said Secretary Jewell. “Together we can ensure these magnificent creatures will be here for future generations, driving tourism revenue and supporting conservation that is sustainable for both rural communities and wildlife. The United States is committed to deepening our partnerships with African countries to address this growing, international challenge.”
Of the total $3m pledged by President Obama in 2013, $2.25m was allocated to institutions to address the following areas:
- assist law enforcement in conducting intelligence-driven investigations;
- build expertise that will help analyse and map the illicit wildlife trade to support proactive targeting of illicit networks;
- improve communications between counterparts in the wildlife and criminal justice communities; and
- assist the Government in building strong partnerships with neighbouring African countries and consumer countries in Asia to ensure more regular coordination and the sharing of information related to wildlife trafficking.
Minister Molewa and her counterpart highlighted the need for a greater uptake of renewable energy in communities affected by wildlife crime and within South Africa's National Parks in general, as part of promoting sustainability and resilience within these communities.
A number of projects are being implemented by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on climate change adaptation – with a specific focus on land management. The Ministers talked about expanding projects focused on adaptation – with the view to translating issues encapsulated in the Paris Agreement into demonstrable projects.
Minister Molewa once again called on all South Africans to make 2016 the year in which we can all declare that we have done our part to combat rhino poaching.
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