The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed US$10 million to curb rampant wildlife trafficking in conflict-ridden Central Africa.
The USAID Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) says Africa’s most important wildlife species face extinction in the volatile region due to ongoing conflicts in parts of that country, South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
“Weak law enforcement has rendered much of the wildlife in this landscape an easy target for heavily armed poachers and natural resource traffickers,” USAID said in a call for counter-wildlife trafficking proposals from regional and international non-governmental organisations.
Wildlife trafficking is now estimated to generate more than US$10 billion annually, closely following the drug trade, arms trade, and human trafficking. It fuels the poaching of Africa’s iconic species, robs communities of wildlife-related revenue, and finances terrorists groups in the region.
According to USAID, the greatest risk is to wildlife in the Mbomou-Uele border region, a hot-bed of the regional conflict. The area had is limited government presence and minimal economy.
“Community buy-in and support for measures that dissuade poaching are key to combating wildlife trafficking and addressing one source of funds for armed groups and other actors involved in destabilising the region.”
The US$10 million is earmarked for biodiversity conservation, with a portion of it being directed to combating wildlife trafficking.