3 December 2012

South Africa: U.S. Mission to South Africa Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking and Promote Conservation

press release

"We see protecting wildlife as a stewardship responsibility for us and this generation and future generations to come. But it is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue that is critical to each and every country." - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

On November 8, 2012, Secretary Clinton highlighted how the United States is working with the international community to combat the illegal trade in wildlife and promote conservation through a four pillar strategy, which includes diplomatic outreach, public diplomacy, training, and partnerships.

In South Africa, the U.S. Mission is working together with local partners to raise awareness and promote conservation efforts. In addition, the U.S. government is providing policy and technical assistance to the South African government to improve awareness, surveillance, detection, law enforcement, and prosecutions in wildlife trafficking.

"As the home to 80 percent of the world's rhinoceros population, South Africa's efforts to save the rhino population will have worldwide benefit. Efforts to stop poaching in South Africa will have regional and global effects," U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald H. Gips.

To commemorate Wildlife Conservation Day on December 4, the U.S. Mission to South Africa is doing the following activities:

Now through December: Consulate General Cape Town is mounting a wildlife conservation poster show focusing on rhino poaching, shark finning, and the illegal ivory trade at the American Corner in the Cape Town Central Library.

November 29: Consulate General Durban Officers were guests of the eThekwini Community Foundation at the Art for Conservation Gala sponsored by the eThekwini Community Foundation, Wildlands, and the Inhluzane Trust in Durban.

December 3: The U.S. Embassy-run Mae Jemison U.S. Science Reading Room in Mamelodi will host students from the Pretoria Campus of the American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ) and the Meetse a Bophelo Primary School in Mamelodi to raise awareness on wildlife trafficking issues and the need to stop poaching. The AISJ students will perform a self-produced show on why stopping rhino poaching is important to biodiversity, conservation, and fighting international crime.

December 3: Students in attendance at the event U.S. Science Reading Room in Mamelodi will be introduced to a U.S.-based NGO started by two young people to ensure that "all endangered species survive at least One More Generation... and beyond." One More Generation (OMG) is asking the students to write letters to President Zuma to take stark actions to immediately curb poaching in South Africa (http://onemoregeneration.org/2012/07/20/dear-president-zuma/).

December 4: Consulate General Durban will participate in an on-line "hangout" sponsored by the eThekwini Community Foundation (ECF). The forum will be a discussion with 8-10 participants from various government and civil society actors involved in anti-poaching/rhino conservation efforts and will be broadcasted in a "call to action" to raise conservation awareness. ECF will announce its new partnership with Project Rhino KZN.

December 4: Consulate General Cape Town will host a public showing at the American Corner in the Cape Town Central Library of the documentary film End of the Line which explores the devastating effects of overfishing.

December 6: A visiting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Officer will engage with stakeholders in a discussion on increasing the effectiveness of enforcement measures.

BACKGROUND ON U.S. GOVERNMENT EFFORTS:

The United States' efforts with foreign governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector seek to reduce demand and strengthen wildlife and marine conservation, as well as related enforcement and institutional capabilities.

Diplomatic Outreach

The United States engages both bilaterally and multilaterally to raise the profile of the growing wildlife trafficking challenge and to focus on the nexus between this criminal activity and global conservation, security, health, and economic development. The United States joined with leaders at the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to issue a joint statement on wildlife trafficking. The United States is augmenting existing efforts in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , as well as promoting practical application of the UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to combat wildlife trafficking. We also work with INTERPOL, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization, and the World Bank in the fight against wildlife crime. Public Diplomacy

In spring 2013, the State Department will host a group of African national park and wildlife officials, field agents, and NGO leaders as part of an International Visitor Leadership Program exchange that will serve as a means to share best practices and lessons learned. Senior State Department officials, including Under Secretary Hormats, Under Secretary Sonenshine, and Assistant Secretary Jones, have mobilized social media and engaged online audiences on wildlife and marine conservation and the growing wildlife trafficking threat. Training, Technology, and Law Enforcement

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) provides $10 million annually for wildlife protection throughout Africa and Asia targeting elephants, rhinos, great apes, and marine turtles. Funds are used to prevent poaching and to improve investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes. USFWS spends an additional $2 million each year on capacity building through the Wildlife Without Borders program. Southeast Asian wildlife authorities receive training as part of USAID's five-year, $8 million Asia's Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program.

The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs supports the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) program - providing law enforcement training to strengthen wildlife crime investigations at ILEAs in Bangkok and Gaborone. The Department of Justice and the USFWS work with international law enforcement partners - including the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group - to provide training for investigating and prosecuting wildlife crimes. The USFWS Office of Law Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration work in partnership with the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute wildlife trafficking cases. The USFWS also analyzes and shares intelligence on wildlife trafficking with global counterparts and provides state-of-the-art forensic support for wildlife crime investigations.

Partnerships

Networks (WENs) to improve communication and strengthen response actions. We support the expansion and strengthening of existing partnerships, such as the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), to engage governments, civil society, and the private sector to combat wildlife crime. We are working with the transportation industry, NGO's, and relevant organizations to develop best practices to prevent the illegal transport of wildlife and wildlife products. The Smithsonian Institution works with partners on programs including biological research, wildlife health and disease, community engagement in conservation, and endangered wildlife translocation.

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