The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has called for stiffer penalties to reduce wild life crimes amid concern over rising cases of illegal wildlife activities.CITES Law Enforcement Officer from Geneva, Mr. John Sellar who is on a week long visit as a follow up to last yearâ€™s visit by CITES Secretary General to the country is in Zimbabwe to give international feedback on wildlife crimes and illegal wildlife activities and trade.
Giving an overview of the problem at a seminar on International Wildlife Crime in Harare, Mr. Sellar said most wildlife crimes are perpetuated by temptation of lots of money, low risk of detection for criminals and low level of punishment hence the need for individual countries to start putting in place strict legislation that can deter criminals from such acts.
â€œOn the international scene, very few countries have legislation in place to punish wildlife criminals, its either one is given a fine or just reprimanded by word of mouth. So it is time the scenario should change and heavy penalties be given to wildlife illegal traders and criminals,â€ said Mr Sellar.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Board Chairman, Mr. George Pangeti said his organisation is concerned over the continued poaching activities taking place in the country and promised to engage law enforcement agencies at a higher level to reduce the crime rate.
â€œAs Parks we have a number of programmes in place to reduce poaching and we have in the past year engaged all law enforcement agency at a higher level and this has helped reduce the problem. We are still worried and concerned because we do not have sophisticated equipment that wildlife criminals are currently carrying with them when they go poaching,â€ said Mr Pangeti.
The seminar on International Wildlife Crimes was attended by representatives from the police, army, Airforce, ZIMRA and Parks and Wildlife Officers among other departments. CITES’ aim is to ensure that international trade in species of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.