Poachers armed with AK-47s and backed by sophisticated wildlife trafficking syndicates have decimated Mozambique’s elephant population over the past seven years.

On the ground, rangers risk their lives daily to protect Niassa’s remaining elephants from these poachers.

“The poachers shoot to kill, not to make us run away,” said Niassa Ranger Vasco Assane

Mozambique, like many other countries in Asia and Africa, is facing a poaching crisis that is threatening national security and its ecological integrity. Strengthening law enforcement, including support to rangers on the front line of the war on wildlife, is one of the many strategies being deployed by the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) to help 19 countries combat the illegal wildlife trade.

 

Mobilising funds and using a multi-pronged approach  

 

Funded by the GEF with grants totaling $131 million, the World Bank-led GWP provides critical knowledge and supports action on the ground. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and UN Environment join with in-country partners to implement each of the 20 projects that constitute the programme.

Under the GWP, national projects can achieve greater impact than if they worked individually. They also benefit from strategic partnerships and leveraging financing.

The GEF has redesigned its funding strategy for the next four years to step up its support to help stamp out the illegal wildlife trade," said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson. “We will make funds available to support countries’ efforts to prevent poaching in wildlife areas, and we will also work on reducing consumer demand.”

 

Species are facing extinction due to illegal poaching

 

With wildlife trafficking reaching unprecedented levels—threatening iconic species with extinction and robbing local communities of their livelihoods—the GWP and its partners are tackling the illegal wildlife trade's entire supply chain.

Efforts to save species and preserve protected areas include anti-poaching interventions, integrated landscape management, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, improved legislation and prosecution for effective law enforcement, and campaigns that promote changing the behaviour of people to stop purchasing illegal wildlife products.

Additionally, the programme curates and shares the latest research and tools in conservation with project teams and partners who are in a race against time to save wildlife.

 

Building strategic partnerships on the ground

 

The GWP engages local communities, who can be the first line of defence against wildlife crime, so they can benefit from wildlife conservation and management through activities like nature-based tourism, natural-resource management, and conservation-based livelihoods.

"The GWP is strengthening governance at the local and national levels to address threats to wildlife and at the same time encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources to reduce poverty," said Karin Kemper, the World Bank’s Senior Director for Environment and Natural Resources. “Importantly, this work is creating sustainable economic opportunities for communities that live near wildlife.”

The GWP and GEF are promoting more partnerships between governments, NGOs, and donors to respond to the growing wildlife crisis.

With the support of the UK and other donor countries, the GEF has allocated $168 million to stop wildlife crime over its new funding cycle, an increase of $37 million on previous years. It could hardly be more timely, or urgent.  

 

Did you know?

 

The global illegal wildlife trade generates between $7 billion and $23 billion per year, making it the fourth most lucrative crime after narcotics, human trafficking, and weap­ons.

1000 Park rangers have been killed defending wildlife over the last 10 years.

The leopard is now extinct in 23 of its 85 original range countries in Africa and Asia.

A pangolin is killed for its meat and scales every five minutes.

Ivory seizures now surpass those of cocaine, according to the World Wildlife Crime Report, showing poaching is increasing to meet demand.

Just 4% of tigers remain in the wild compared to last century.

Wildlife populations have plummeted 60% since 1970

 

* Sources: UN, Thin Green Line Foundation, IUCN, UNODC, Panthera, WWF