For many years the emphasis on addressing the illegal wildlife trade has been on increasing the capacity of law enforcement agencies. This has resulted in more seizures, confiscations and motivation of game guards, environmental police and supporting organisations. In many places we can point to significant successes in tackling international wildlife crime, and be rightly proud of these efforts. But it is also fair to point out that tackling the IWT does not just start and stop at seizures. When live animals and plants come into captivity – for however short or long a time – there is a huge amount of expertise and resources required to manage these live organisms such that they can – if possible – go back to safe havens in the wild, or be cared for until such times as they can be successfully reintroduced (often a long and difficult process). The need for appropriate laws, policies and National Action Plans for managing confiscated live organisms is a fundamental element of addressing the illegal wildlife trade; without proper planning – and access to the critical resources needed to implement these plans – we will be in danger of creating insurmountable ‘road-blocks’ that negate all the superb efforts by the law enforcement authorities.
We are pleased that through the support of the British High Commission, Cameroon, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we have started the process of supporting the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) to produce a National Action Plan for managing live confiscations. Cameroon is one of the first countries in Africa to commit to delivering a National Action Plan, as recommended in resolution 17.8 of CITES.