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Essay

SOMO GUYO

Year-Prize: The 9th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Fight against illegal trade in wildlife

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THE FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL TRADE IN WILDLIFE

Winner's name : SOMO GUYO (Kenya)
Prize: Honorable Mention


Wildlife trafficking is illegal trade of wildlife products, poaching of animals and hunting of wildlife for food. Sometimes we misunderstand wildlife trafficking which rather consist both wild plants and animals ranging from small to large animals. This misconception has resulted to less consideration of birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibian and wild plants, which has been prone to danger of extinction recently. 
Root cause of wildlife trafficking trace its course to African culture. Most international and local fighters against wildlife trafficking fail to consider African culture in intensively controlling wildlife trafficking. Knowledge of African culture helps curbing poaching. .In the old days African people poached wildlife which is directly linked to their ritual, political system and rites. As well understanding their indigenous culture help we appreciate their effort in conserving some species of wildlife because of their belief or avoidance, eg Borana which are pastoral community in northern Kenya survey (dooya) their land for three basic things before migrating: a) pasture b) water c) existence of the predators in the area. If the area is prone to predators they   survey better places, this avoidance help in conserving wildlife. Other communities poached wildlife for prestige to acquire certain fame in their cultural society. Nowadays this poaching style has been connected to trade unlike in older days where the African people poached wildlife sometimes for fames, cultural and rites. They as well poached for the same cultural reason but now attached to trade of the products to local and international traffickers. Therefore it should take us closer consideration of local Africans culture so as to steadily eliminate poaching which major source of wildlife is trafficking. Let me put emphasis on cultural set up of Borana of Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia as an example and drive possible solution to it.
      For instance Borana community of Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopian have  made poaching and hunting of wildlife an integral part of their  and culture.They had complex and many rituals which are linked to poaching. Men  travelled as far as from Nagelle in Borana zone of Ethiopia to Marsabit National park to poach Elephants, Rhino, Lions, Cheetah and Leopard for their tusks, ivory, skins and claws. They usually come in groups of five people and walk for many days with ammunitions such as Guns, bows, arrow and Swords. On every stopping sites they hunt Antelopes, Lesser kudus, Buffalo and ostrich for food. They usually take over  six months to accomplish their mission. Poaching knowledge in Borana community is passed from generation to generation, they are precise, intelligent and had strong tactic of attacking wildlife animals. They had knowledge of identifying animal footprint and had knowledge on wildlife behavior, such as breeding, predation, migration and their biological clock. The attack is so faster that it could not take them even five minutes to remove skins, tasks ,ivory or claw upon killing of the animals .They immediately prepare their journey back to Borana zone of Southern Ethiopia.Men who showed exhibition of the product such as ivory, skin, tusk and claws are being respected in the society,  then they allowed to perform ritual in the society.This make them to achieve fame and prestige.
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Before stopping the demand of wildlife product, documenting the crisis or even influencing both national and intergovernmental bodies,we should take action in curbing poaching. This can be done in the following ways:
We should study the cultural set up of the community where poaching is increasing.Therefore we should understand the source of the cause.This can be either be Cultural affiliated practices or prestige and fame affiliate.In communities where poaching is cultural,organization should consider their cultural set up in controlling poaching.Communities where poaching is practiced for fame and prestige, it?s easy to outdo the poaching.
To effectively deal with cultural rites and rituals attached to poaching the government through wildlife regulating bodies should develop a periodic curling culture. This will enable the slow erosion of poaching habit among the community members since the number of wildlife being poached will be regulated seasonally. Then wildlife are conserved.
Development of job opportunities among the communities in conservancies and natural reserves and asurity sharing of accruing benefits from tourism sector, this will change community perspective of wildlife as long term source of income. This strategy is effective mostly on marginalized communities of Africa and the rest of the world.
Techniques such as the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) should be employed in wildlife poaching prone areas. This will enhance community conservation of wildlife fauna and flora. It also encourages appreciation of wildlife fauna and flora by the community. Through RRA a memorandum of agreement is achieved between community and wildlife stakeholders to curb illegal wildlife trade.
Upon understanding the community trend on wildlife exploitation and utilization of wildlife product and having mutual bilateral agreement with the community. The government through wildlife governing body and internationals wildlife stakeholders particularly CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wildlife flora and fauna) and UNEP(United Nation Environmental Programme) should develop restrictive laws and policies against illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching.Local communities are also  trained and advised to report to government any intruders to their area who is being suspected  to be wildlife trafficker.Local communities are therefore enhanced through motivations.
Government and other wildlife stakeholders should take necessary measure to curb or mitigate human wildlife conflict. This will restore the harmonial existence between humans and wildlife and also appreciate conservation effort towards wildlife flora and fauna.In this way communities sees wildlife fauna as blessings for incomes rather than destroyer of properties and lives.
Immoral vices such as corruptions which exist among communities, government bodies and wildlife stakeholders should be dealt with seriousness. Such vices are major hindrance towards the fight against illegal trade in wildlife. 

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