The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) trained staff from 37 companies to identify and report potential wildlife trafficking during a series of recent workshops. A total of 80representatives from aviation, shipping, communications, and financial sectors attended the workshops that provided clear tips and best practices on identifying smugglers, trafficked wildlife and tracing the illicit funds associated with wildlife crime.
Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s largest illicit trades and is driving many species towards extinction. The organized crime syndicates that are largely behind the trade frequently move wildlife and its products from East Africa to Asia, including Tanzania. Furthermore, the illicit profits gained by these crime gangs flow in the opposite direction to pay poachers and others involved in the illegal trade.
The private sector plays a critical role in helping to detect and report wildlife crime as the smugglers use traditional supply chains, such as airlines and shipping companies to traffic wildlife. TPSF worked with wildlife trafficking experts from Africa and Asia to prepare and deliver the workshops, which gave examples from previous cases showing participants ways they can be on the lookout for these criminals and join efforts to protect Tanzanian rich biodiversity.
Between 2009 and 2014, Tanzania was at the center of Africa’s poaching epidemic, losing more than 60 % of its wild elephants to poaching. According to statistics, it is expected that tourism will generate more than 18% of the country’s GDP by 2020, much of which is tied to wildlife tourism in the Serengeti and other places within the country, underlining the importance of protecting the country’s biodiversity.
“The wildlife in Tanzania is vital to the success of our business. Empowering our staff to be on the lookout for wildlife crime and giving them a better understanding of what to do if they spot something suspicious, is one important way we as a company can play a broader role in protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.” Said Russell Lee-Foon, the Director of Operations at Grumeti Air.
TPSF conducted each of the workshops in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID)Promoting Tanzania’s Environment, Conservation, and Tourism (PROTECT) project. The workshops are part of an ongoing project between USAID and TPSF called “Enhancing the involvement of the Private Sector in Sustainable Environmental and Biodiversity Conservation in Tanzania”, which seeks to address the dynamics that threaten biodiversity and inhibit private sector-led ecotourism growth, including the trafficking of illegal wildlife products. Plans are already being discussed on how to build on the successes of the workshops and expand them to other vulnerable ports across the country.