Tackling poaching effectively in Africa and Asia

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the fight against poaching in Africa and targeting illegal trade chains in Asia.

The illegal trade in wildlife products is estimated to generate 10 billion euros in profit, making it one of the most lucrative criminal activities in the world. In 2015 alone, over 1,300 rhinoceros were poached and over 20,000 African elephants illegally killed in sub-Saharan Africa. Their horns and tusks are worth a great deal of money, especially in Asia. More and more species are threatened with extinction as a result of this criminal enterprise. It endangers species diversity and is also becoming an increasing threat to the livelihoods and security of the local population.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is, for example, supporting the Tanzanian Government in its fight against poaching and in improving the management of its wildlife reserves. GIZ is working closely with Frankfurt Zoological Society in the Serengeti National Park and the Selous Game Reserve, which covers 50,000 km2 and is Africa’s largest wildlife reserve. Activities include training rangers and providing them with better equipment, including high-frequency radio systems, night vision devices and computer and smartphone software that helps the rangers to instantly communicate what they have seen back to base for analysis. Two small aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance technology are also being used, making it easier to monitor the vast expanses of land. They help to detect groups of poachers and are also useful in recording wildlife populations. The elephant population in the Selous Game Reserve, which had fallen dramatically in the space of four years from 40,000 to 15,000, has become stable once more.

‘To put a stop to these criminal practices, we also have to target the entire illegal trade chain,’ Klemens Riha explains. He heads a transnational GIZ project, which was commissioned by BMZ and also works in close collaboration with the German Environment Ministry to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife products. This includes ensuring cross-border cooperation between wildlife conservation and customs authorities and also making sure that crimes are prosecuted. GIZ is collaborating, for example, with the World Customs Organization in Southern Africa in training customs officials and using specialised wildlife sniffer dogs. ‘Achieving truly resounding success depends crucially on also curbing the demand for ivory and rhinoceros horn,’ says Riha. ‘China and Viet Nam are the main markets for illegal wildlife products of this kind, which are classed as status symbols and desirable for other properties there.’ As part of an initiative supported by GIZ, well-known Chinese businesses recently pledged to stop using illegal wild animal products as corporate gifts. China-based Alibaba, with 300 million customers the world’s largest internet trader, now filters out online advertisements for articles made of ivory or rhinoceros horn every day. In Viet Nam, GIZ is also supporting the Ministry of Health in a public education campaign on the ineffectiveness of powdered rhinoceros horn as a cure for cancer.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federal enterprise with worldwide operations. We support the German Government in the fields of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education. GIZ assists people and societies in shaping their own futures and improving their living conditions.