President Obama launched an initiative in Tanzania on Monday aimed at combating illegal wildlife trafficking and curbing widespread poaching of rhinos and elephants in Africa.
Using his executive authority, Obama established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking composed of the State, Interior and Justice departments to devise a national strategy over the next six months. He also created an independent, eight-member advisory panel that will offer recommendations to the task force.
In addition, the State Department will provide $10 million in training and technical assistance to combat poaching in Africa. Three million dollars will go to South Africa, $3 million to Kenya and $4 million elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The president’s announcement puts wildlife trade on the map and raises its profile beyond a niche issue to one of global importance,” said Carter Roberts, president and chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund in the United States. “These are global crime syndicates that are robbing the wealth of Africa and it is fueling the trade of other things, such as drugs and arms. And eventually it will drive these species extinct.”