The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) anti-poaching measures have largely focused on combating the criminals that kill wildlife in the bush while nothing much was done towards breaking apart the syndicates that finance these poaching operations.
This was said by the Chobe Acting Regional Wildlife Officer Ernest Madimabe during the 6th ESAAMLG AML/CTF Public-Private Sector Dialogue that was held in Kasane recently under the theme ‘Detecting and Preventing Illicit Financial Flows Associated with Illegal Wildlife Trade.’
The Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) is a regional body subscribing to global standards to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.
According to Madimabe, some useful points need to be put in place to help infuse, at a systemic level, measures to minimise risk of money laundering and illicit financial flows from fuelling Illegal Wildlife Trade. He said that as ESAAMLG Member States they need to ensure that their anti-poaching strategies and other measures to curb Illegal Wildlife Trade explicitly include interventions that reduce illicit financial flows and money laundering linked to the illicit trade.
Madimabe highlighted that Botswana is currently reviewing and revising its National Anti-Poaching Strategy, which they hope to launch before the end of 2023, in which the risk posed by money laundering is acknowledged and targeted actions developed.
He noted that given the transboundary and international players that finance Illegal Wildlife Trade in their countries but based thousands of kilometers away, it is crucial that they also adopt regionally coordinated response measures.
“At a global level, ESAAMLG Member States should use the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime to further the goals of the body,” said Madimabe who strongly believes that much could be achieved through strengthened collaboration the two bodies.
For her part the Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame said that the problem of illegal wildlife trade is not only peculiar to Botswana and her neighbors, but also a challenge to the ESAAMLG region and the world at large. Serame said that for Botswana, the theme of the dialogue was even more relevant looking at the fact that Botswana National Risk Assessment (2017) identified poaching as a high risk to money laundering. She stated that even up to the present moment Botswana is still grappling with activities of poachers.
She also stated that the theme of the dialogue was also motivated by the fact that Kasane is the gate way to the Chobe National Park, which host one of the best natural wildlife and wilderness areas in Botswana. Serame added that Kasane also hosts the Secretariat of the Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area whose partner States are Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Trans-Frontier Conservation Area is meant to facilitate the coordination and collaboration of state partners in the combating of wildlife crimes.