On the 24th July 2018, at Hill View Lake Kivu Hotel in Rubavu (Rwanda), the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) is organizing a validation workshop on the “Zero Poaching” Strategy. Participants are from the Protected Areas shared by the 3 GVTC member countries (DRC, Rwanda and Uganda), ministerial law enforcement delegates and some members of security forces.
In his welcoming remarks, Dr Georges Muamba Tshibasu, GVTC Executive Secretary, thanked participants for having positively responded to GVTC’s invitation to validate the “Zero Poachnig” Strategy which, he says, a culmination of tireless efforts to which most participants have contributed. He also much appreciated the contribution of WWF, whose expertise has largely contributed to the success of this strategy, which is an appropriate response to factors fueling criminal destruction of fauna and flora in the Greater Virunga Landscape and whose scale and complexity justify the firm commitment of the participants and conservationists to put an end to it, by 2030. Indeed, this meets the spirit of the GVTC Treaty signed by the 3 member countries in 2015.
Mr. Prosper Uwingeli, Chief Park Warden of the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, welcomed the members of delegations of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, while mentioning that the strategy “Zero Poaching” initiated by GVTC will have to maximize the views and contributions of stakeholders in the protected areas at different levels. He pointed out that the parks of the Greater Virunga Landscape will be inspired by this strategy that meets their needs, in the framework of effective and comprehensive law enforcement. The relevance of this strategy is the inclusion of equipment, training, collaboration, etc. that all aim at its materialization so that it may be fruitful.
During their more elaborate presentations, Mr. David Karuhanga, GVTC Legal Advisor and Mr. Drew McValey, WWF Expert (from Nairobi), outlined the context as well as the contours of poaching in the Greater Virunga Landscape, while specifying the six pillars on which the “Zero Poaching” strategy is based on.
Globally, poaching is an illegal activity against fauna and flora, in violation of local, state, federal or international laws. Poaching activities include killing animals outside of permitted seasons, without license, with prohibited weapons, etc. This definition of poaching covers killing of birds, mammals, and other species as well as illegal trade of timber. As far as the “Zero Strategy “ is concerned, it is achieved in any site when there are no more detectable traces of poaching activities over a 12 months period and when there are no more perceptible impacts on a species (animal or plant) in order to cover this site and support any population.
The "Zero Poaching" strategy is based on six pillars that are complementary, if not complementary, namely: (1) Assessment: closing gaps in protection activities; (2) use of technology: implement useful and cost-effective technology; (3) capacity: train and motivate staff to provide the best protection; (4) increasing involvement of communities: increasing community involvement in protection efforts; (5) prosecutions: strengthening prosecutions of wildlife offenses;(6) collaboration between conservation stakeholders at local, national, regional and international levels.
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