Key meeting to address poaching threat in Central Africa

An estimated 450 elephants were poached this year in northern Cameroon for their tusks © WWF/Bouba N’Djida Safari Lodge 30th March 2012—The U.S. embassies of Gabon and the Central African Republic are hosting a workshop April 3-5, 2012, in Libreville, Gabon, in response to the growing threat of poaching and trafficking of protected and endangered species.

Participants will include law enforcement and government officials plus representatives of environmental organizations from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.

The meeting takes place a few weeks following poaching of elephants in Bouba N’Djida National Park, northern Cameroon on an unprecedented scale. Several hundred of the estimated 600 elephants living in the park were killed by poachers believed to originate from Sudan who entered Cameroon illegally through neighbouring Chad. The government of Cameroon responded by sending in troops to restore law and order in the park.

The Libreville meeting is regarded as an important step towards creating stronger local and regional approaches and collaborative platforms to combat wildlife poaching and trafficking and will aim to create an opportunity for Central Africa to establish a regional wildlife enforcement network, along the lines of those currently existing or being established in South-East Asia, South Asia, and Central America.

The Department of State has been at the forefront of international efforts to develop global partnerships to dismantle transnational networks in the illegal trade of wildlife.

In 2005, the Department launched CAWT and, in July 2011, the White House released the President’s National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and Converging Threats to National Security, which highlighted environmental crimes among the top five most lucrative criminal activities.

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