The Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) is the richest and most biodiverse ecosystem in Africa. This richness, however, is threatened by depletion of species and habitat loss through poaching, illegal trade in fauna and flora, overfishing, mining (extractive industries), and wild fires.
The focus of the 2016 Annual Conservation Status Report (ACSR) is on poaching and wildlife crime (illegal trade of fauna and flora). “Poaching” is defined as any illegal activity that contravenes the laws and regulations established to protect natural resources including the illegal harvest of wildlife with the intention of possessing, transporting, consuming, trading, and using its body parts.1
“Wildlife” means all fauna and flora. “Fauna” refers to animals, birds, and fish. “Flora” are plants, and “crime” refers to acts committed contrary to national laws and regulations intended to protect natural resources and to administer their management, use, and subsequent acts like processing of fauna and flora into products for sale, their transportation, concealment, and laundering of financial benefits accruing from the crime.
Poaching and wildlife crime are serious crimes that require firm and strengthened national measures and enhanced regional and global response. The GVTC state parties and their partners have recognized the need to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products through mutually exclusive approaches of law enforcement and support for community livelihood.
Law enforcement in the GVL is largely done through ranger patrols. Analysis of ranger based patrol data has revealed that within mountain gorilla parks, patrols are more likely to return to the same square kilometer of an area at least once every month within 12 months of the year around the periphery of the park. The intensity of patrols gradually reduces towards the center of the protected area (PA) and transboundary borders. While the intensity of patrols was observed to be low in PAs not inhabited by mountain gorillas, the trend was the same as in gorilla parks, being lowest towards the transboundary borders.
Poaching and wildlife reduction strategies in the GVL have been realized to be influenced by several contextual factors that include increasing population, livelihood and dependency on natural resources, land use outside PAs, conflicts within and outside PAs, extractive industries, and climate change, with some of the effects and evidence summarized in Table 1.
Together, the state parties and their partners in the GVL have put up tremendous efforts in conservation of natural resources, especially against poaching and wildlife crime.Results show that there was a decline in the number of snares discovered and destroyed—dropping to 1,310 in 2016 from 4,240 in 2015. Equally, deforestation based on satellite imagery analysis has shown that the rate of deforestation has significantly dropped from over 100 square kilometers in 2001 to a negligible 15 square kilometers in 2016.
1 Lindsey, P., Balme, G., Becker, M., Begg, C., Bento, C., Bocchino, C., Dickman, A., Diggle, R., Eves, H., Henschel, P., Lewis, D., Marnewick, K., Mat-theus, J., McNutt, J. W., McRobb, R., Midlane, N., Milanzi, J., Morley, R., Murphree, M., Nyoni, P., Opyene, V., Phadima, J., Purchase, N., Rentsch, D., Roche, C., Shaw, J., van der Westhuizen, H., Van Vliet, N., and Zisadza, P. (2012). “Illegal hunting and the bush-meat trade in savanna Africa: drivers, impacts and solutions to address the problem.” FAO, Panthera/Zoological Society of London/ Wildlife Conservation Society report, New York.
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