“Bio-piracy, the illegal trade in animals and plants is indeed, big business, involving the pillaging of millions of species each year,” said Willie Nduku, of WildLife and Environment Zimbabwe.
The smuggling boom is proving hard to control as it threatens the natural resource base of the developing world.
Zimbabwe has been currently hit by local and regional wildlife poachers around its national parks, especially targeting rhinos, elephants (for ivory), buffalo kudu and eland (for their skin and game meat).
“Bio-piracy is now estimated to be the world’s third biggest criminal activity after arms and drug smuggling,” says Nduku, a seasoned wildlife and environment conservationist.
There are also challenges associated with biotechnology that include importation of genetically modified organisms and bio-terrorism, he said.
Experts note that bio-terrorism posed a challenge in the application of biotechnology and there was need for an ethics committee to monitor such issues in every country.
According to UNESCO, it is a requirement that a bio-ethics committee be established as the global wildlife trade is big and diverse ranging from animals, medicinal products and live plants.
Executive Director of the Zimbabwe National Environment Trust, Joseph Tasosa said: “Alongside these bio-ethics committees there is need to reinforce sustainable management of forest resources by local communities as they have known how to make use of these resources and products for generations. “With the escalating rate of the smuggling boom, paying the heaviest price is the developing world, home to many of the exotic and indigenous flora and fauna sought after by Northern consumers,” he said.
“With a widespread of such sustainable techniques among local communities that still have an abundance of natural resource bases, the pillaging of millions of species by poachers and smugglers, can be controlled,” said Toga Fakarayi of BirdLife Zimbabwe.
The Convention On International Trade in Endangered Species regulates international trade in 30 000 different species through TRAFFIC, a highly-diversified monitoring system.
However, TRAFFIC elephant expert Tom Milliken, quoted recently in a local independent daily, said: “As most large-scale ivory seizures fail to result in any arrests, I fear the criminals are winning.”Post published in: Environment