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Anti-Poaching Workshop April 3-5 2012

Anti-Poaching Workshop

Central Africa Regional Anti-Poaching Workshop in Gabon

The U.S. Embassies in Gabon and the Central African Republic, in partnership with the Government of Gabon and the U.S. Department of State, are bringing a three-day workshop to Central Africa in response to the increasing severity of poaching and trafficking of protected and endangered species in the region.  The “Central African Sub-Regional Workshop on Wildlife Trafficking and Dismantling of Transnational Illicit Networks” will include approximately 100-150 participants, primarily law enforcement and government officials from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea, as well as leaders of conservation organizations actively working in the region.  Ambassadors Laurence Wohlers (Central African Republic) and Eric Benjaminson (Gabon) will co-chair the workshop.  The workshop will take place on April 3-5, 2012 in Libreville, Gabon.  Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba will officially open the conference with a strong speech underlining his Government’s efforts to wipe out illegal exploitation of natural resources.

The workshop is a response to growing concerns among the international law enforcement community about threats posed by illicit criminal networks that poach and traffic protected and endangered wildlife.  Poaching and wildlife trafficking are lucrative criminal activities which are intertwined with other illicit networks undermining the security and stability of economies in Central Africa.  This hampers sustainable development strategies including efforts to protect national resources and promote eco-tourism across the region. 

This information sharing effort among Central African wildlife enforcement and anti-poaching representatives is an important step towards creating stronger local and regional approaches and collaborative platforms to combat wildlife poaching and trafficking.  Participants from international organizations such as INTERPOL, CITES, and TRAFFIC will be present to share best practices, as will demand-side countries such as China and Thailand.  By bringing together participants from within and outside the region, the workshop offers the opportunity for Central Africa to explore the potential of establishing a regional wildlife enforcement network, joining Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central America in a global system of regional networks.

The U.S. State Department, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Office of Crime Programs and the Bureau for Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Office of Ecology and Conservation, as well as the Government of Gabon, have provided substantial support for the workshop. 

The Department of State has been at the forefront of international efforts to develop global partnerships to combat the illegal trade in wildlife and dismantle transnational illicit networks.  In 2005, the Department launched the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, which works to end the illegal trade in wildlife by improving enforcement capacity, reducing demand, and catalyzing political action.  Working to establish a global network of regional wildlife enforcement networks, the Department, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and international partners, has helped to form regional wildlife enforcement networks in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Central America.  In July 2011, the White House released the President’s National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and Converging Threats to National Security, which highlighted environmental crimes among the top five most lucrative criminal activities. 

Libreville March 12 2012

End of press release

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To view the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime.

To learn more about the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, visit:www.cawtglobal.org