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Home > MEA Bulletin > List of Guest Articles > Guest Article No. 56
Special Meeting Report: Lusaka Agreement Parties Complete Ninth Governing Council Meeting
The Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora held its ninth Governing Council Meeting in Kampala, Uganda, on 3 October 2008. The Governing Council was preceded by a two-day Meeting of Experts, which identified a number of common and challenging issues facing parties.

Traditional poaching has given way to more sophisticated commercial poaching stretching the resources of wildlife enforcement agencies across Africa. Rapidly expanding human populations are increasingly leading to human – wildlife conflicts, with no or limited compensation schemes for injuries or property damage. African countries lack adequate wildlife legislation or existing legislation is inadequately enforced. In many countries the penalties for illegal trade in wildlife are only a fraction of the rewards poachers gain. This leaves a serious enforcement gap. Economic expansion to tap raw materials provides access to previously untouched areas. This opens up new routes to poaching. Additionally, countries need to realize that their wildlife is an important asset to be utilized to the benefit of local people.

To combat these and other related problems, the Lusaka Agreement established a permanent Lusaka Agreement Task Force in 1999. This unique Task Force is composed of national law enforcement officers seconded by the parties. Additionally, National Bureaus conduct joint cross-border law enforcement operations and conduct training and inter-agency awareness programmes both independently and with the Task Force. The work of the Task Force has been instrumental in addressing wildlife crime, as evidenced by its role in the seizure of 6,5 tonnes of contraband ivory in Singapore. Having served its investigative purposes, the Governing Council decided that this ivory will now be disposed of in accordance with CITES provisions.

Despite these successes, the Lusaka Agreement faces challenges ahead. With only six parties (Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) and three signatories (Ethiopia, South Africa and Swaziland), the Lusaka Agreement needs to attract more African States to ensure comprehensive coverage of the continent and to further prevent or address transboundary wildlife crime. With an eye on this, the Lusaka Agreement will now undertake an assessment on sustainable options related to financing mechanisms for the Lusaka Agreement and its Task Force, the structure of the Task Force and deployment of its Field Officers.

The Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora is a regional agreement open to all African States. Its objective is to reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal trade in wild fauna and flora. The Agreement builds upon and supports implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Africa. For more information visit the Lusaka Agreement website (http://www.lusakaagreement.org/) or contact the Lusaka Agreement Task Force Director (skisamo@lusakaagreement.org; administrator@lusakaagreement.org).
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