The Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area Secretariat (TFCA) convened a two-day legislation alignment virtual workshop with support from the UK and U.S. Governments from 24th March 2021. The workshop was part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the KAZA Secretariat’s coordination role in support to the Partner States, donors and stakeholders working on wildlife crime prevention.
Speaking during the opening session of the workshop, the British High Commissioner to the Republic of Botswana and the UK Special Representative to SADC, Her Excellency Sian Price, called for stronger collaboration to deliver transboundary responses and solutions and the central role of legal alignment in that regard. High Commissioner Price also informed the participants that preventing climate change and biodiversity loss were UK’s number one international priority. She observed that the transnational nature of serious and organized crime, such as illegal wildlife trade necessitates linking of local response with the regional, national, and international response.
U.S Ambassador to Botswana Craig L. Cloud reaffirmed the U.S. Government commitment to tackling wildlife crime and trafficking worldwide including in KAZA. Cloud said since 2015, the U.S. presidential taskforce on wildlife trafficking has been employing a strategy that promotes law enforcement, international cooperation, and demand reduction. The U.S. Government also signed into law the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Act to cement efforts to combat wildlife trafficking as a national priority. The U.S. Government is supporting KAZA through programs that promote information sharing among governments in the region and training for law enforcement and customs officials.
Speaking on behalf of the KAZA Partner States and representing the current KAZA Coordinating Country – the Republic of Namibia, Mr. Colgar Sikopo, Deputy Executive Director, Natural Resources in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry thanked the two Governments for the collaboration in the workshop which he said was consistent with the principle of harmonization contained in the KAZA Treaty. Mr. Sikopo observed that synergies were important for enhanced impact and realization of the KAZA goals and objectives.
In addition to Partner State representatives who discussed legislative perspectives on combatting wildlife crime and poaching at national and transboundary levels, the workshop also attracted civil society representatives who shared experiences in addressing illegal wildlife trade and combatting wildlife crime – regionally and internationally.
The workshop ended with an action plan towards transboundary alignment of legislation and a call for strengthening multi-agency collaboration at national and transboundary levels to combat wildlife crimes.
KAZA Partner States have prioritized wildlife crime prevention in collaboration with several donors including the UK, German, and USA Governments, and the European Union through CITES/MIKE. Further support is being channeled directly through partner NGOs within the landscape.