WELCOME REMARKS BY ZPWMA BOARD CHAIRMAN,MR GEORGE PANGETI
Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel, Harare,
02 JUNE 2011.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you today to deliberate and strengthen efforts in combating international wildlife crime and to curb all forms of illegal cross-border trade in plants
and animals. We value this collaborative effort by the various Government Departments here present in the development of strategies to ensure the sustainability and viability of all our natural resources. International Wildlife Crime can only be successfully tackled through this form of collaboration. Recognizing the potential that wildlife species have in the provision of substantial ecological, social, cultural and economic benefits, I want to underscore the governmentâ€™s commitment to conservation of all wildlife resources. Zimbabwe through this seminar is once again a pacesetter in efforts to create awareness of wildlife crime and to foster coordinated enforcement actions that will be incorporated into mainstream long term strategies for biodiversity conservation at national level.
Zimbabwe is privileged to be one of the few wildlife range states in Africa, where large areas of land which have been set aside as protected areas, still have viable populations of various species of endangered plants and animals. In many countries some wildlife species have been completely wiped out as a result of legal and illegal trade and other factors with the only records to indicate their existence in the past now left as anecdotal evidence. In Zimbabwe we have many endangered plant and animal species, powerful African symbols, such as rhinos, flagship species and whose future is under severe threat. Wildlife products have a huge market and as such, wildlife crime takes place in countries of origin, transit countries and in the countries where the specimens are finally consumed.
To fully understand the nature, scope and drivers of wildlife crime and to address some of the challenges we face, the CITES Secretariat will outline the major issues and possible solutions.
It is important to develop strategies that will enhance our enforcement efforts in the protection of threatened species and to address specific types of crime and criminality. This Seminar, is a result of a Resolutions from the CITES COP15 and also a follow up to several meetings by the CITES Secretary General who visited Zimbabwe in February 2010. Zimbabwe continues to take a lead in developing conservation strategies which ensure sustainable use of wildlife resources. In order to ensure protection benefits, wildlife conservation must cascade to local communities. Here in Zimbabwe, communities have been empowered through the Wildlife Based Land Reform Policy. Communities at the local level are the ultimate protectors of our wildlife resources and at the same time they are key informants who can assist law enforcement agencies with intelligence on wildlife criminal activities in their areas. I have no doubt that with the expertise gathered here encompassing law-enforcement agencies and Senior Government Officials, you will develop sound strategies in combating international wildlife crime which address the needs of this country and at the same time conforming to international standards set by Treaties such as CITES and CBD etc. This collaborative approach is now needed more than ever because of the ever increasing pressures our wildlife is facing from criminals.
I wish you fruitful deliberations and I now declare this workshop officially open.
I THANK YOU...