Original source: News24
US President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order launching a $10m bid to cut wildlife trafficking in Africa, which threatens to decimate rhino and elephant populations.
US officials said that Obama, who is in Tanzania, would set up a task force to develop a strategy against the illicit wildlife trade that is estimated to be worth between $7bn and $10bn a year.
Grant Harris, senior director for Africa on the National Security Council, told reporters that illicit wildlife trade was “decimating the population of some of Africa’s iconic animals”.
He said that rhino horn was worth around $60 000/kg on the black market – making it literally worth more than its weight in gold.
The US investment will see $3m in assistance to South Africa, $3m in financing for Kenya and $4m to projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
The plan is intended to strengthen policies combating trafficking throughout the region and enhance law enforcement capacity, and work out ways to prosecute those caught in the trade.
Obama flew into Tanzania earlier on Monday on the final leg of a three-nation Africa tour.
Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years. Besides targeting rhino, whole herds of elephants have been massacred for their ivory.
The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhino horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments.