In line with the rules and provisions of the Lusaka Agreement, the Director-Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), Mr. Bonaventure EBAYI made official visits to Tanzania and Uganda to brief members of the Governing Council on the affairs of LATF and the Lusaka Agreement.

In Tanzania, the Director met with the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hon. Ambassador Khamis Juma Suedi Kagasheki on 10th June 2013 at the Ministry’s Offices in Dodoma. The Minister informed the Director about ongoing preparations towards holding of a national conference on combating wildlife crime focusing on Tanzania that will bring together national agencies from various sectors and cooperative partners including LATF to reflect on the issues and formulate an appropriate way forward.The Director had earlier met with the Director of Wildlife Division Prof. Alexander Songorwa to discuss technical issues relating to combating illegal wildlife trade and other conservation related matters mainly those relevant to the work of LATF and National Bureaus to the Lusaka Agreement.

In a similar visit to Uganda, the Director met with the Vice President of the Lusaka Agreement Governing Council and Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Hon. Maria Mutagamba on 28th June 2013 at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Kampala. Hon. Mutagamba was accompanied by the Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Hon. Agnes Akiror Egunyu and other senior Officials in the Ministry including the Permanent Secretary Mr. Patrick Mugoya and Mr. George Owoyesigire as well as the Director for Conservation at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Mr. John Makombo who also represented the Executive Director of UWA, among other officials. The Minister informed LATF about ongoing efforts by the government of Uganda in ensuring the country is neither a haven for wildlife criminals nor poaching site and transiting route for illegally acquired wildlife specimens. Prior to the Minister’s meeting, the Director-LATF had a day earlier met with the Executive Director of UWA Mr. Andrew Seguya as well as the Director for Conservation at UWA Mr. John Makombo and the Commissioner of Wildlife Mr. James Lutalo to  exchange briefs on technical matters relating to combating illegal wildlife trade and implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.

The Ministers Hon. Maria Mutagamba and Hon. Akiror A. Egunyu (fourth and fifth from right respectively), the PS Mr. P. Mugoya (second from right) and other officials in a group photo with the Director- LATF (third from right during the meeting.

The Ministers Hon. Maria Mutagamba and Hon. Akiror A. Egunyu (fourth and fifth from right respectively), the PS Mr. P. Mugoya (second from right) and other officials in a group photo with the Director- LATF (third from right during the meeting.

The meetings addressed a number of salient issues that included, inter-alia: Escalation of rhino and elephant poaching and other related serious crimes emerging in the region, Convening of the International Conference on Biodiversity Crime, Organization and preparations for the forthcoming 11thLusaka Agreement Governing Council Meeting, Implementation of the Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System (WEMS) as well as Operational, Financial and Administrative matters pertaining to the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement including LATF’s Strategic Plan 2005-2015.

The meetings also discussed ways and means of facilitating capacities of LATF and the respective National Bureaus to be more effective entities in combating illegal wildlife trade and other wildlife crimes in the region. During these meetings, the two member states, Tanzania and Uganda, commended the work of the Director-LATF and his team as they reaffirmed their support and commitments towards fulfilling their obligations to the Lusaka Agreement. The Ministers encouraged LATF to continue working with same zeal and spirit in fulfilling its mandate.