Brazzaville, Congo 1st August 2019: Over 30 representatives from 6 countries in Central Africa as well as international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, participated in a series of workshops convened from 28 July – 1 August 2019 at the Mikhael’s Hotel in Brazzaville, Congo. The events were convened by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) in partnership with the African Union Commission, Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) through its European Union-funded ENACT-Enhancing Africa’s Response to Combating Transnational Organized Crime program. This follows similar events successfully convened for Southern Africa in February 2019 in Livingstone, Zambia and in May 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The program comprised three (3) events namely capacity building workshop for wildlife law enforcement officers, Wildlife Directors meeting and Sensitization on the African Union’s Common Strategy on Combating Illicit exploitation and trade in wild fauna and flora. The program was designed to build capacity, cultivate synergy, promote dialogue and buttress cooperation among the wildlife institutions and policymakers to effectively combat wildlife and forestry crime in the region. The workshop brought States and partners together to strengthen cooperation and law enforcement responses to combat illegal trade in wild fauna and flora in the region. Participants of the workshop built useful networks and strong professional relationships among themselves which is key for future collaboration.

The opening session was presided over by the Minister for Forest Economy of the Republic of Congo, Hon. Dr. Rosalie Matondo. Other speakers at the session comprised the Director of LATF Mr. Edward Phiri, Regional Coordinator of ENACT Mr. Martin Ewi, Charge de’ Affaires at the European Union in Congo Brazzaville and the Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, Mr. Raymond NDOMBA NGOYE.

Group photo of the Delegates

Mr. Edward Phiri, Director LATF and Mr. Martin Ewi, Regional Coordinator of ENACT making their remarks during the opening session

The European Union Charge de Affaires in the Republic of Congo and the Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, Mr, Raymond NDOMBA NGOYE, delivering their remarks at the opening session

The Chief Guest Hon. Dr. Rosalie Matondo (Centre), Minister for Forest Economy of theRepublic of Congo, making her remarks during the opening session

Hon. Rosalie Matondo pointed out the need to act jointly, decisively and swiftly in order to reverse the alarming wildlife crime trends in the region. She also lauded LATF for the success in transnational enforcement operations that had assisted Lusaka Agreement member states and neighbouring countries to address wildlife and forestry crime challenges in the region. She also commended the efforts of LATF, the African Union, COMIFAC and implementing countries for mobilizing support and spearheading initiatives including the Capacity Building Workshop, Wildlife Directors meeting and sensitization on the AU illegal wildlife trade strategy that bring together policymakers and wildlife managers to deliberate on salient issues that affect conservation and develop strategies towards surmounting the common challenges.

Excerpts of Minister’s remarks in English

The Director of LATF, Mr. Edward Phiri, reiterated that illegal wildlife was a challenge that was causing nightmares to law enforcement. He cited a recent case that occurred a few days earlier, on 23rd July 2019, where authorities in Singapore seized over 8.8 tons of elephant ivory, which originated from the DRC and is estimated to have come from nearly 300 African elephants. This was Singapore’s’ largest seizure to date. Some 11.9 tons of pangolin scales valued at $35.7m were also seized. It is believed to have been poached from about 2,000 of the mammals. Such challenges were causing nightmares to law enforcement and we should endeavor to surmount them, he said.

In attendance were delegates, mainly wildlife and forest law enforcement officers and Directors of wildlife/forest authorities/agencies from CAR, Cameroun, Chad, Congo, Congo DR, and Gabon. Also in attendance were representatives of LATF, ENACT and COMIFAC. Local and International media attended the opening session. Resource persons were drawn from LATF, ENACT, COMIFAC, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), WWF, Royal Netherlands Police, INTERPOL – Regional Central Bureau for Central Africa, World Conservation Society (WCS) and TRAFFIC.

A similar workshop is planned to be held in Dakar Senegal from 9 – 13 September 2019 and will cover the West and North African Regions.