UN pushes for stronger measures to protect gorillas
Kigali, 31 March 2011 An international meeting organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/CMS) called for better enforcement of wildlife law in the ten countries in Africa with gorilla populations.
For the first time ever, UN agencies, national governments in the region, local wildlife authorities, non-governmental organizations and international experts came together this week at a two-day meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, to deal with wildlife crime threatening endangered gorillas.
Government officials, the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), INTERPOL, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as well as the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, among others, joined CMS in reviewing the current conservation activities affecting the four sub-species of gorillas in East and Central Africa, and discussed solutions to address the major threat of commercial poaching for bushmeat and live trade in gorillas.
CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema said: "Joint efforts to apply wildlife law are important because gorillas play a key role in the ecology of Africa's forests. Their loss has an impact on the health of the whole ecosystem and, by extension, on everyone who lives in or benefits from these forests."
Local, national and international law enforcement efforts are essential to protect gorillas and their rainforest habitat. The UN is already working closely with INTERPOL and national governments to curb the trade in live apes, bushmeat as well as the illegal harvesting of timber.
INTERPOL offered its global network of national offices to help combat wildlife crime relating to gorilla and other endangered species.
"A global response is required against environmental and wildlife crime, and in this endeavor it is important for all countries to work through a multi-disciplinary approach that also uses INTERPOL's established National Central Bureau network and its Environmental Crime Programme to communicate intelligence and to provide support in capacity building efforts," said Bernd Rossbach, the Director of INTERPOL's Specialized Crime Unit.
The meeting, which ended on 30 March, concluded that transboundary collaboration, coordination with UN peace-building missions, such as MONUSCO, and law enforcement agencies must be strengthened, with increased resources and training for law enforcement personnel and rangers. Orphan gorillas were already moved to a sanctuary with help from MONUSCO in July 2010 to combat the illegal cross-border trade in baby gorillas.