Poaching: Let’s work together and beat this menace

This has never been a single-state issue, says Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba; it is driven by global demand and a global trade


As president, I hold a special responsibility to help protect our environment and conserve our wildlife. We come from an ecologically rich and verdant country that has the fortune of having between 40,000 and 45,000 elephants – around half of all those left in Africa.

Last year, more than  40 tonnes of ivory were seized around the world by customs officials, the largest count in over 25 years. I flinch at the thought of this figure, especially when I consider the ivory that passed across borders unnoticed. During the last decade we have lost a third of the world’s elephant population.

As The Independent’s elephant campaign has rightly recognised, this is a catastrophe for the whole of humankind. We have to act now or one of the most majestic and intelligent animals to grace this planet will disappear forever.

 Later this week I will be travelling to London to join more than 50 heads of state and foreign ministers to participate in the Global Summit on the Illegal Trade of Wildlife.

This is, without exaggeration, a critical conference. It is our last chance to stop the scourge of poaching and wildlife trafficking. It is also an unprecedented global effort to tackle a crime that, for too long, has been left to individual states to resolve.

Poaching has never been a single-state issue; it is driven by a global demand and a  global trade.

As such, it is our global, collective responsibility to intervene. This is especially true for Gabon, which could potentially see its natural history wiped out before its very eyes.

Poaching has a pernicious effect on wider regional security, funnelling and financing transnational crime, increasing the number of weapons within Africa, and promoting a culture of violence. As last year’s attack in Nairobi illustrated, a new form of terrorism has come to Africa.

The influx of weapons that comes into our country through poaching increases instability. The lifestyle of a poacher also conditions him to violence and aggravates volatility and the potential threat of terrorism throughout  the region.

In Gabon, we have made some progress, and I am proud to say that we have led the world’s efforts through some of our anti-poaching initiatives. For example, in 2012, we were the first nation to burn our entire stock of seized ivory to demonstrate once and for all that there would never be an economic incentive to poaching. We’re pleased to see this trend has been followed by nations around the world, including the Philippines, the United States and China.  

We have created a network of 13 national parks covering 11,600 square miles – 11 per cent of Gabon’s territory – and strengthened the National Parks Agency of Gabon in order to ensure that these parks’ wildlife riches are preserved for future generations.

We have emulated the best strategies from leading conservation initiatives around the globe, and our military works tirelessly to ensure our parks remain free from poachers.

We have created a task force to police our parks, and we are pushing for a regional task force that will share information and personnel. Personally, I am pushing hard for legislation that will introduce relevant sanctions.

These initiatives, along with others, have been widely debated among the Gabonese people, and I am pleased to see that it has strengthened public opinion adamantly against all forms of illegal poaching.

To nurture peace and combat an environment of violence which poaching encourages, we cannot accept anything less than a democratic system.

We have therefore strengthened the rule of law with a focus on the fight against corruption,  poverty, strengthening good governance, and transparency, as illustrated by the recent introduction of biometric elections.

But we cannot do this alone. Without a combined, international response, we will not overthrow the scourge and harm which is brought about by poaching.

This summit gives me hope that the international community will put its weight behind resolving this issue once and for all.

Let’s work together on a united front to overcome this global menace and save this magnificent animal.

The Independent is urging governments to stamp out wildlife crime this 2014. Sign our petition here.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions