Embassy of the United States of America
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia, Pretoria
January 28, 2016
Wildlife Trafficking Cooperation
Trafficking in wildlife is an international conservation crisis and a multi-billion dollar illicit business that is pushing many iconic animal populations towards extinction. Wildlife trafficking is one of the most lucrative types of transnational organized crime and is undermining decades of conservation work. The illegal trade of wildlife threatens security, undermines the rule of law, fuels corruption, and hinders economic development and sustainable livelihoods. South Africa is at the epicenter of this global challenge, possessing the vast majority of the world’s rhinoceros population as well as large elephant and abalone populations and a tremendously rich biodiversity. South Africa also faces a tremendous challenge in combating trafficking. Improved law enforcement action appears to have led to the first decline in the number of rhinos poached in 2015, falling to 1,175 from the height of 1,215 rhinos that were poached in 2014. Yet 1,175 rhinos still remains a crisis for this iconic species, particularly when compared to the nine rhinos poached in 2007.
The U.S. Mission to South Africa has a robust program, in close coordination with the South African government, to combat wildlife trafficking in South Africa at its source by providing equipment, training, and law enforcement coordination as well as sharing best practices and lessons learned for the benefit of both our countries. The Unites States also remains committed to reducing the demand both within the United States and throughout the world in order to protect our treasured wildlife.
Some examples of these efforts include:
- Conducting joint law enforcement operations with the South African Police Service (SAPS).
- Coordinating and funding South African participation in wildlife investigations courses at International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA).
- Supporting outreach and speaker programs to raise awareness.
- Providing computer forensics training to wildlife enforcement agents.
- Donating over $750,000 in equipment to provincial and national parks, including night vision goggles and portable housing for rangers in Kruger National Park.
- Funding $4 million in grants to organizations that assist law enforcement in conducting investigations and researching and analyzing illicit wildlife trade to support proactive targeting of networks.
- Assigning a regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Law Enforcement Attaché to coordinate efforts.