Ambassador of the European Union to Botswana and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Alexander Baum, announced a funding project estimated at €1.5 million (approximately N$21.8 million) to address the deteriorating wildlife crime situation in the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA).
This huge project is also expected to benefit Namibia as its part of the KAZA.
The KAZA TFCA, which is larger than Germany and Austria combined and nearly twice as large as the United Kingdom, lies in the Kavango and Zambezi river basins where Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge.
The funding project was revealed during an occasion of the Giants Club Summit held in Kasane, Botswana, last week.
He said this project, which is being implemented by the UK-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Space for Giants and a local NGO, Tlhokomela Trust, would strengthen wildlife law enforcement and cross-border collaboration in trans-boundary ecosystems by creating a trans-frontier wildlife law enforcement network of highly skilled individuals in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area.
The project was awarded following a call for proposals launched under the EU Cross-Regional Wildlife Conservation programme in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.
Through this funding, Baum noted a trans-frontier wildlife law enforcement training facility with a holistic training curriculum for training the wildlife law enforcement community would be established in Boro, near Maun.
“The curriculum will include best practices in intelligence gathering, wildlife ranger tactical and specialist operations, wildlife crime investigation, and wildlife crime prosecution and sentencing in order to ensure that the entire criminal justice chain in each country is skilled to the highest levels for tackling wildlife crime,” Baum maintained.
Further, a high-performance satellite communications network will be built to enable and enhance trans-frontier coordination on wildlife crime law enforcement.
Baum stated the project is expected to create a highly effective and collaborative trans-frontier wildlife law enforcement community as a model for Illegal Wildlife Trade management across other African TFCAs.
As a result, by 2021, the project expects to see at least a 50 percent reduction in the illegal killing of elephants, verified by records, and a significant improvement in conviction rates and penalties for those prosecuted for wildlife crime.
The Ambassador said this intervention should result in an improved standard of wildlife law enforcement within the KAZA area, supported by a network of mobilised community groups effectively participating in wildlife law enforcement, alongside the private and public-sector actors.