Van Dam: “Tackling poachers and illegal trade globally together”

Representatives from almost 40 countries, non-governmental and international organisations have made arrangements on how to tackle poaching and illegal trade in animals during the international ‘Save Wildlife’ conference in The Hague. Participants agreed on the use of new technologies, combating corruption and stimulating the economy in order to protect wildlife. Minister for Agriculture, Martijn van Dam, announced this at the end of the conference on 3 March 2016.

Concrete actions

Van Dam said, “I am extremely satisfied with the outcome of the conference. The situation for some animals is critical. There has been an alarming increase in poaching. For that reason, we did not want to end this conference with declarations, as normal, but with concrete actions. And that has been achieved. In total, twelve ‘wildlife deals’ have been concluded. These will both enhance the fight against poaching, trade and the organised crime that lies behind these activities. and afford better protection to wildlife.”

Almost 300 participants attended the conference. Some 45 ministers and representatives of governments, scientists, NGOs and companies from Africa, North America, South America, Asia and Europe participated in the high-level segment. They concluded at least twelve ‘wildlife deals’ for concrete actions, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Reintroduction of rhinos in Rwanda

The Netherlands is contributing €200,000 to the reintroduction of rhinos in Rwanda. Rwanda has requested the Netherlands to cooperate in the reintroduction of 20 rhinos to a well-protected area. The Rwandan government is doing this together with African Parks and assistance from the local population. Local rangers are being trained to protect the animals. The amount that the Netherlands is contributing is enough to help two rhinos.

Anti-poaching technology

Smartparks is a project in which GPS transmitters are attached to animals so they can be tracked. Park rangers are trained to ‘read’ their behaviour. Antelopes, for example, act differently when poachers are in the vicinity. Park rangers can respond to this. This training is being provided by Sensing Clues, African Parks, Shadowview, Wageningen University and Advanced Instrumentation.

Wildcat has developed software that enables poaching and trading to be mapped. The arrangement is for this software to be made freely available and used by Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Horn of Africa and the Black Mambas (South Africa's female rangers). It can be operational within six months and works in the same way as the incident room of a fire brigade, for example.

Alternative income

Community Venture Capital Funds is providing funds for local people to use in initiatives that include starting their own shop.

Over the last few years, the Netherlands has contributed around €6 million to combating wildlife crime. Some of this has funded projects such as the X-ray equipment used to screen containers in the port of Mombasa. Other money is being used for the training of rangers by the Netherlands Forensic Institute, while various agricultural projects have also been started as a source of alternative income for the local population.