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Richardson Center, WWF & African Parks Leveraging Technology & Training To Protect African Wildlife

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Richardson Center for Global Engagement and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) co-hosted a forum today about the best ways to integrate state-of-the-art technologies and training methods into wildlife protection and enforcement in key parts of Africa. The effort kicked off in Washington, D.C. at a meeting of dozens of experts from government, NGOs, technology firms, and frontline conservation and enforcement officials who are working to identify and deploy promising anti-poaching practices and tools.

The Richardson Center also announced its plan to establish the first-of-its-kind, permanent ranger training school in the Republic of Congo, in collaboration with African Parks, based on a successful “poacher-to-protector” amnesty program, and create an international legal framework to dedicate funds raised from the forfeiture of seized assets to support anti-poaching efforts.

“Working together, we can transform wildlife conservation throughout Africa and the world,” said Gov. Bill Richardson. “We know that reaching and protecting the most remote locations is no easy task. It takes applying the most advanced, real-time surveillance technology. It takes trained and committed rangers and guards. It takes an infrastructure that sustains the effort over the long haul. And it takes international cooperation and strategic planning. This partnership and these new resources will help us get there.”

The illegal wildlife market has exploded in recent years, fueling a growing demand for elephant ivory, rhino horn, tiger products and other threatened species. Wildlife criminal groups—many of them “Mafia-style” gangs—that trade in illicit wildlife and wildlife products often act with impunity. Today, this illegal trade is the fifth most profitable in the world, with an estimated value of $10 billion annually.
More than 30,000 elephants are killed each year – nearly 100 per day. A growing ivory demand in Asia, a thriving illegal international market and unstable political environments all contribute to a disturbing rise in poaching. The most recent analysis by the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) shows illegal trade in elephant ivory to be at its highest level in two decades. In the last 10 years, 62 percent of Africa’s forest elephants have been lost. There has also been a 5,000 percent increase in rhino poaching since 2007. In South Africa 746 rhinos have been killed this year, exceeding the record loss of 668 in 2012, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network.

“The planet’s most majestic species are being massacred by organized poachers in front of our eyes at alarming rates. A unified front and new solutions are needed to stay one step ahead of these global crime syndicates so we can eliminate the demand and dismantle illicit trade in wildlife,” said Crawford Allan, senior director, TRAFFIC / WWF. “We have to fight fire with fire. Our collective know-how and resources will bring cutting-edge, affordable and readily-replicable critical help to this unprecedented crisis and push the envelope in the fight against wildlife crime. We’re sending a very clear message to poachers: your time is short. We’re closing in on your deplorable slaughter of innocent wildlife.”

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