By Samuel Sanya
The UK government has put together a £10m (sh41b) fund to fight illegal wildlife trade in developing countries such as Uganda in a bid to fight corruption and improve tourism earnings.
The fund will finance activities at government level, charities and non-government organisations. Wildlife trafficking is estimated to be worth at least £12b (sh48 trillion) annually and is a constant threat to the tourism sector as it depletes wildlife in game parks.
Recently, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) joined a multinational move to stamp out of trafficking of elephant ivory, rhino horns, big cats, great apes and reptiles.
Funding from the DFID programme will bolster on-going efforts to protect Uganda’s wildlife by providing training and specialised equipment and by raising awareness of the impacts and economic losses caused by wildlife crime to curb illegal wildlife demand.
“Poaching devastates livelihoods and sustainable communities as well as endangering the existence of these wonderful animals,” Owen Paterson, the UK government Environment Secretary said in a statement.
“We must work together with other countries to stamp it out by stopping demand, improving enforcement and by helping communities develop sustainable economic activity,
“The wildlife in areas where this is already being done becomes a valued and protected community asset so both the wildlife and the community benefit,” he added.
Paterson noted that heavily armed poachers and organised criminal networks are destroying some of the world’s most iconic species and posing a threat to security in rural African communities.
Revenues from tourism hit sh2.7trillion last year. Many tourists trek to Uganda to view the unique landscapes, lakes, and unique mammals such as the mountain gorillas, monkeys, rhinos, African elephants, lions and chimpanzees.
The UK will hold an international conference in February 2014 in efforts to end illegal wildlife trade hosted by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.
The conference will spur global action against the growing threat by poachers to wildlife by supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade and improving law enforcement.
“By working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to tackle the illegal wildlife trade we are helping to improve the economic opportunities of the poorest people whose livelihoods depend on natural resources,” Justine Greening, the UK International Development Secretary said.
“Fund will also help stop the corruption fuelled by the illegal wildlife trade,” she added.