Monday, June 5, 2017 After hosting World Environment Day, Angola presses on against wildlife crime

A year after hosting World Environment Day, Angola is pressing ahead with efforts to combat the illegal trade in wildlife, including the training of specialized rangers to protect its remaining elephant herds from ivory poachers.

World Environment Day 2016 was organized around the theme of wildlife crime in support of the United Nations’ #WildforLife campaign.  As well as holding the official celebrations, Angola announced a slew of measures aimed at combat elephant poaching and ivory trade.

Those steps also included: efforts to close the southern African country’s domestic ivory market; making a careful inventory of its ivory stockpiles; surveying its elephant populations; and securing resources to strengthen law enforcement.

The measures are bundled in a National Elephant Action Plan drawn up as part of its commitment to the Elephant Protection Initiative, a partnership of 15 African nations designed to protect elephants across the continent.

A year on, Angola has begun specialist ranger training at its ranger school in the town of Menongue. The training is carried out by 51 Degrees, a Kenyan security firm. Stop Ivory, a London-based non-government organization that is the secretariat for the Elephant Protection Initiative, provides funding and support.

The country has completed its ivory inventory and reported its principal stockpiles to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The convention aims to prevent international trade in wild animals and plants from threatening their survival.

Angola has also launched a three-year programme with Stop Ivory and other partners to strengthen law enforcement, with funding from the UK government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

There are also plans to help communities who live alongside elephants.

“Angola's wildlife is of vital importance to our country and we also take very seriously our role regionally and globally in the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife,” said Paula Francisco, Angola’s Secretary of State for the Environment.

She said Angola was proud of its progress in combating wildlife crime and said her government aimed to “involve all our citizens in protecting our shared heritage,” also through celebrating World Environment Day.

Angola is seeking to protect populations of once-abundant savannah elephants that survived the country’s long civil war and have re-established migration routes to and from nearby countries including Namibia and Botswana.

A recent aerial survey by the Great Elephant Census found about 3,400 elephants in southern Angola, and that they are under severe pressure from poachers.

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