Assisting key African elephant range States in planning their national responses to the escalating illegal trade in ivory


African elephantElephant poaching in Africa has reached a crisis point. While the driving force behind this crisis – ivory trafficking – is not a new phenomenon, given current ivory prices it is more lucrative and thus more prevalent than ever before. At the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Bangkok, 2013) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the key African and Asian countries most heavily implicated in the illegal ivory trade were identified. These were categorized as eight countries of “primary concern”, eight countries of “secondary concern” and six of “importance to watch”.

To assist the efforts of these priority countries to combat ivory trafficking, the CITES Secretariat has launched a process of developing National Ivory Action Plans (NIAPs), which are designed to be a practical tool for strengthening national controls of the trade in ivory and ivory markets, and for pinpointing key areas where countries need to strengthen their capacity to combat elephant poaching and ivory trafficking. Each NIAP outlines the urgent measures that a specific country commits to deliver – including legislative, enforcement and public awareness actions – depending on its circumstances in terms of capacity-building needs, the extent of available resources, the scale and nature of illegal trade and whether it is a source, transit or destination for illegal ivory.

Following recommendations made at the 63rd and 64th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC), NIAPs for countries of primary concern were finalised in May 2013. Subsequently, at its 65th meeting (Geneva, July 2014), the SC requested that countries of “secondary concern” (Cameroon, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Mozambique and Nigeria) and “importance to watch” (Angola, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic) also develop NIAPs.

Our contribution

Ivory seizure in MalaysiaBuilding on our experience and lessons learnt from the African Wildlife Law Enforcement Review (see here), the Final Evaluation of MIKE Phase II and the technical backstopping we provided during the MIKE 3.0 interim phase, CDC was ideally placed to provide support for the development of NIAPs for African countries of “secondary concern”. CDC’s role was to facilitate the concerned countries’ self-assessments of their national wildlife crime and law enforcement capacity, using an assessment framework that we developed together with the CITES MIKE Programme (see here). Based on the outcomes of these capacity assessments, CDC prepared national reports for most of the target countries (Cameroon, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Nigeria) that summarised the current status of wildlife law enforcement efforts and proposed potential high priority NIAP actions. We also helped develop templates to assist national agencies in developing their NIAPs and other supporting documentation.




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