Throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, wildlife supports local communities in several important ways, including traditional uses such as food and clothing. Wildlife tourism is an increasingly important and growing industry that brings benefits to private sector tourism businesses and local people alike.
SADC recognises the importance of conservation and sustainable use of wildlife resources in Southern Africa. Management of wildlife and enforcement of protection are critical to conservation efforts, as poverty, civil unrest and other factors can lead to illegal use and over-exploitation of these vulnerable resources.
The Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement
In order to effectively protect wildlife, SADC developed the Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement (1999).The objectives of the Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement emphasise the need for a regionally-agreed approaches to conservation, management, and the enforcement of illegal uses of wildlife. Information exchanges regarding wildlife management and utilisation are also important for effective conservation. The Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement also promotes national and regional capacity building and the facilitation of community–based wildlife management.
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Southern Africa is home to a large number of wildlife and plant species that are sought-after for a variety of reasons, including medicinal uses and trophy hunting. High levels of exploitation, exacerbated by habitat loss, threaten the survival of many species. Even plentiful wildlife populations can be at risk. Historically, demand for African Elephant ivory has seriously threatened elephant populations, and although Southern Africa benefits from the largest population of African Elephants in the world, accompanied by some of the largest range areas, much of it is not formally protected.
The SADC region’s international wildlife trade is worth millions of dollars, supported by many desirable wildlife sourced commodities, including: live animals, food products and leather goods, tourist curios, hunting trophies, and illegal traditional medicines.
SADC acknowledges the important role of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES provides legal mechanisms for the sustainable international sale of raw ivory, and other valuable wildlife commodities. Recognising the trans-regional and transnational nature of wildlife populations, SADC also supports the establishment of Transfrontier Conservation Areas as a positive contribution to wildlife conservation.