Africa Cover Report

Over-harvested Wildlife Menace

West/Central Africa  Gets Spotlight at CMS CoP12

Report: Mohammed Abu,Accra,ADM Ghana

The  Abidjan Aquatic Wildlife Partnership formed  between the Abidjan Convention,OceanCare,Wildlife Migration and USAID supported by  the World Bank,with a focus on the Western and Central Africa sub-regions,is schedulled to be launched  during the upcoming 12th session of the Convention on Migratory Species Conference of the Parties (CMS CoP12).

Schedulled to take place in Philippines, from the 22nd -28th October,the slogan for the convention is,”Their Future is Our Future:Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People”

The action is against  the background  of  substantial  evidence gathered   that, majority of countries in West and Central Africa contribute to the over-harvest of aquatic wildlife in several ways that include, by-catch,as well as other forms of capture for human consumption, fishing bait, traditional medicine and other uses.

To this end,the need for a multi-stakeholder partnership to curb the capture,trade and consumption of endangered,threatened or protected aquatic mammals,reptiles and birds in West And Central Africa  becomes most relevant and imperative than ever before.

Together the partner  organizations will draw attention to the plight of aquatic species including endangered, threatened and protected species,and support governments, the private sector and local communities to take the critical steps to ensure their survival.

The partnership  seeks to address links between the degradation of natural habitats and species,and issues of poverty,food security, human health,including impacts on local and national economies.

Many drivers behind the increased demand for aquatic wild meat are the same issues identified within the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).

A growing reliance of people on unsustainable food sources such as endangered, threatened or protected species has clear implications for the future economic prosperity and well-being of people, but also represents a grave conservation and animal welfare concern

These were contained in a Press Release issued by the parties on Wednesday,October,18 in Abidjan.

At CMS CoP12,the release said, governments will consider adopting a resolution which highlights issues that affect many migratory aquatic species listed in the appendices of CMS.In particular it expresses concern that these species are being harvested in an illegal or unregulated manner and that demand for the meat or other products of these species is increasing.

The resolution asks that CMS gives the issue increased attention by setting up an inter-national working group of experts to focus on the issue and to provide advice to governments.

The hope,it notes, is that the outcome of the new CMS Aquatic Wild Meat Working Group, if agreed by the parties,would benefit the Abidjan  Aquatic Wildlife Partnership and work collaboratively within or alongside it.

The organizations supporting the development and of the Abidjan Aquatic Wildlife Partnership will not only be encouraging governments to adopt this resolution but also to take this fight back to their home countries and reinforce their commitment to ensuring that endangered and threatened migratory aquatic species not only survive,but thrive.

In West and Central Africa alone,the release further notes, at least 20 countries are known to carry out specialized hunts for the West African Manatee.•Cetaceans are killed and their meat is consumed at high levels throughout the region.

“Ghana is thought to represent a particular hotspot in the region for hunts of dolphins and small whales with at least 16 species affected. In some cases, dolphins are landed as by-catch but directed hunts also occur and in some places where they are used as shark bait.

“Sea turtles” it disclosed, “are killed for their meat and shells, as well as their eggs” .”As females lay the eggs, poachers collect them and often kill the females at the same time” adding,”Turtle meat is regularly sold in African countries including “Nigeria, Mauritania,Cabo Verde,Senegal,Côte d’Ivoire,and Guinea”.