Addis Ababa, 17 May 2019: Over 40 representatives from 9 countries in Eastern and Horn of Africa as well as international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, met at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 13 – 17 May 2019. The event was convened by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) in partnership with the African Union and Institute for Security Studies (ISS) through its European Union funded ENACT-Enhancing Africa’s Response to Combating Transnational Organized Crime program.

The States and partners came together to strengthen cooperation and law enforcement responses to combat illegal trade in wild fauna and flora in the region. They also built strong professional relationships among themselves which was key for future collaboration among the countries. This was achieved through the event’s three activities which comprised a capacity building workshop, Wildlife Directors meeting and Sensitization on the African Union’s Common Strategy in Combating Illicit exploitation and trade in wild fauna and flora. The event was designed to build capacity, cultivate synergy, promote dialogue and buttress cooperation among the wildlife institutions and policy makers to effectively combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade. The states reaffirmed their commitment to closely work together in containing transnational wildlife and forestry crime. The participants in attendance were from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Also in attendance were representatives of LATF, ENACT and AUC. Observers included representatives of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Born Free Foundation, European Union Mission to the African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), INTERPOL–Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa, TRAFFIC, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – Regional program for Eastern Africa, US Embassy to Ethiopia, Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network (HAWEN) and Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC).

Group photo of the delegates to the Addis event

This was a second event in a series of events earmarked for the five (5) regions of Africa with the first having been held for the Southern African region from 24 – 28 February 2018 in Livingstone, Zambia. The Southern Africa event brought together more than 50 participants from ten (10) countries namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The capacity building workshop enabled participants to share experiences, best practices and intelligence on the dynamics of wildlife and forestry crime including the evolving modus operandi of the criminal syndicates. The Directors’ Forum delved into areas and modalities of enhancing cooperation, acknowledged the challenges, appreciated the ongoing national efforts and achievements and formulated action points for implementation towards addressing the vice.

The recommendations/action points included calls on the states to:

  • Effectively implement international, continental and regional instruments and regulations to combat illicit trade in wild fauna and flora such as CITES and the Lusaka Agreement,
  • Consider as a matter of priority accession to the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, by the Eastern Africa States that are not yet party to the treaty,
  • Enhance the practical implementation of the African Union Strategy on combating illicit exploitation of wild fauna and flora,
  • Enhance interstate cooperation including entering into bilateral agreements between wildlife contraband source, transit, and destination countries,
  • Establish National Enforcement Task Forces for countries that have not done so;
  • Strengthen political goodwill among Eastern and Horn of Africa States towards influencing policy direction, intervention, and support in promoting wildlife conservation across the region,
  • Meet regularly or at least once a year, through the Directors Forum, to review the status of wildlife crime and implementation of the action points.

The meeting appreciated LATF’s achievements in fostering interstate as well as multiagency cooperation including its success in enforcement work and called upon the organization to play a role of convener and coordinator of transnational operations. Participants also urged the African Union Commission to promote accession of Member States to the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora.

The Record of the Wildlife Director’s meeting is provided herein. The LATF Secretariat will submit an action plan on the outcomes of the Wildlife Directors meeting in the short, medium and long term to the States and partners for follow-up action, support and implementation. Partners and observers present at this meeting were urged to support the implementation of the recommendations and action points. The meeting further recommended that LATF and HAWEN should oversee and ensure that the agreed action points are effectively implemented.

This event was jointly organized and convened by the African Union’s Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (AU-DREA), LATF and ISS/ENACT-Enhancing Africa’s Response to Combating Transnational Organized Crime. The European Union provided the requisite funding through ENACT. The resource persons were drawn from LATF, Interpol’s Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa, UNODC, TRAFFIC, and Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

LATF expresses its’ profound gratitude to the nine (9) countries that sent resourceful delegates, the co-organizers/co-conveners namely AU-DREA and ENACT/ISS, the partners that provided resource persons and European Union for the funding support, which contributed to the success of this important event.