Regional conservationists have called for collective security measures to ensure sustainable development of wildlife in the Virunga landscape.
The call was made at a four-day regional meeting of wildlife officials from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda in Rubavu District on Tuesday. The three countries share the Virunga landscape.
The meeting was organised under the Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration (GVTC) advisory committee. It aimed at renewing efforts to ensure a wildlife crime free Greater Virunga by 2024. This was the second meeting, following the first held in Uganda last year
Participants included park wardens, migration officials, customs technocrats, Interpol officers and experts in the fight against poaching. It was noted that regional security is the main pillar for a safer and productive wildlife in the region.
“We want to formulate an appropriate action plan to deal with biodiversity risks in the Greater Virunga landscape.
We have seen rampant wildlife crimes for decades, aggravated by the high demand for timber in the region,” said Georges Muamba Tshibasu, the GVTC executive secretary.
Tshibasu added that there is need to pacify the region and this requires elimination of all subversive elements that are a threat to wildlife.
The meeting noted that the policy and legislative framework to tackle illegal trade in forestry products and other wildlife trade are sufficiently provided for in the various laws of the member countries- DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. The major challenge, however, lies in the enforcement of the policies and laws, officials said.
The officials also noted that over the last two decades, the central part of the Albertine, particularly the shared borders of eastern DR Congo and western Uganda and Rwanda, has been marked by insecurity and mass refugee movements.
Prosper Uwingeri, the Volcanoes National Park chief warden said there is need for governments to help in law and policy enforcement.