Wildlife crime has reached unprecedented levels. Poaching of elephants and rhinos has spiked in recent years due to the high demand for ivory, rhino horn, and other products in Asian black markets.
Organized criminal syndicates and terrorist groups are increasingly involved, arming poachers and using the wildlife trade to fund their activities. The slaughter and trade in African wildlife is creating instability, threatening national security, and undermining the foundations of economic development.
The most significant limiting factor in stemming the poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking crisis is political will. The ICCF Group is at the forefront of building political will to improve governance on wildlife by facilitating the work of caucuses in Botswana, Malawi, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to toughen policies, coordinate across borders, and access international support. The ICCF Group facilitated the signing of the 2014 Arusha Declaration on Regional Conservation and Combating Wildlife/Environmental Crime by eight countries in East and Southern Africa. The ICCF Group is poised to expand its support for the formation and growth of conservation caucuses, as well as regional collaboration, throughout eastern and southern Africa over the next several years.
Since the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, the world's first nationally protected park, conservation has been a truly American value. Conservation, Theodore Roosevelt insisted, is democratic in its essence, in that national parks preserve our natural heritage for all people. He urged us to consume with restraint, because the wildlife and natural resources in our land belong not only to us, but the generations of Americans that come after us.
History has taught us that natural resources can and often will be a source of violent conflict. Population growth and consumption patterns reveal that the likelihood of armed conflict over food, water, minerals, and energy will increase dramatically in the future. We must change how we live and interact with nature, because our fate is inextricably tied together with it. For the parts of the world not ready to make the necessary changes, we must help, because we are all in this together.