Emerging Leaders Provide New Research and Tools to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

Emerging Leaders Provide New Research and Tools to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trafficking
June 3, 2020 9:40 am Blog

Those committed to combating the illegal trade of animal and plant life across West Africa, or interested in learning how they can become more engaged, now have a new tool at their disposal. A compendium of research by 26 West African researchers on issues related to the effective implementation of the Convention on the International Trade of Illegal Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is now available here. The publication, “Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Building Regional Expertise and Coordination through the CITES Master’s Program,” was produced by the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program.

The document features the abstracts and bios of 26 students drawn from conservation and wildlife agencies across the region, who were supported by WA BiCC, the Economic Community of West African States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the students’ respective institutions, and other partners to pursue Master of Science Degrees in the “Management and Conservation of Species in Trade: The International Framework” from the University of Andalucía in Spain. Prior to this initiative, only one student from West Africa had attended this unique program that equips graduates with state-of-the-art skills to more effectively implement and comply with CITES.

“The support program that WA BiCC developed and launched for training these 26 West African professionals on CITES is new in the region and constitutes a robust model to effect real change in policy and practice,” notes Michael Balinga, WA BiCC’s Biodiversity Conservation Specialist.

As part of their coursework, each student conducted extensive research into a CITES-related topic or issue relevant to their respective country or West Africa as a whole. The abstracts reflecting their work include those focused on countries’ awareness and understanding of CITES; interagency coordination of CITES implementation; and emerging issues such as the significant role of protected areas in CITES implementation, the status of illegal trade, the trafficking of sea turtles, and the role of captive breeding initiatives.

“The excellence and diligence of these professionals is evident in the summaries you will read in this document; summaries not only of the research they have undertaken to better understand and manage the rich biodiversity of West Africa, but of the individuals themselves,” wrote Daniel Moore, Mission Director of USAID West Africa, in the booklet’s opening letter.

Each abstract and bio is accompanied by the graduates’ contact information, as this cadre of experts is eager to support various capacity-building, policy development, educational, and enforcement processes moving forward throughout West Africa. You can access the publication here.

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