The world’s largest association of tropical biologists and conservationists is urging African leaders to step up efforts to protect wildlife from poaching.
In a resolution released June 30, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) called for several measures to counter the commercial bushmeat and hunting trade that it says is “emptying forests of wildlife, threatening the conservation of regional biodiversity, jeopardizing the livelihoods of local people, and affecting the long-term stability of the region’s diverse and little-studied ecosystems.”
The recommendations include greater recognition of local communities’ rights; strengthened enforcement of wildlife laws; stepped up monitoring of the wildlife trade, including assessments of animal populations; better coordination of poverty alleviation initiatives with conservation efforts; increased support of protected areas and capacity building programs for wildlife rangers; and extending the length of the hunting season in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lowland gorilla in Gabon.
“The situation has grown urgent for many species, particularly for protected species, and is unlikely to improve unless well supported monitoring and enforcement are operational on the ground, and infractions followed up effectively in the courts,” stated the ATBC. “Still, it may not be possible to protect remaining faunas if commercial demand for protected species remains unchecked. Enforcement therefore must go hand in hand with efforts to end demand for protected species in urban and suburban markets.”
The resolution was issued ahead of ATBC’s annual meeting, which this year is being held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The meeting opens today.