Wildlife law enforcement in Africa

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Laws are established within human societies in order to maintain order and ensure peace and justice. The existence of law breakers calls for law enforcement units to ensure that either laws are not broken or that if they are, the frequency is kept as low as possible, and the law breakers are appropriately punished by established penal codes. In wildlife conservation, the question of law enforcement is perhaps as old as man himself. In medieval times laws were laid down to protect royal hunting grounds and particular species of animals, and violators of these laws were customarily penalized. These were perhaps the precursors of our modern wildlife conservation laws. In modern Africa, as elsewhere, wildlife conservation laws have become stricter and increasingly more difficult to enforce during the last few decades. This has been due to three factors: a decline in the numbers of wild animals as a result of over-exploitation and the destruction of their habitats by man; the attractive market prices offered for some trophies such as rhino horns, elephant tusks, and certain animal skins; and an increasing shortage of human food, particularly meat. These three factors have put so much pres¬sure on Africa’s wildlife that some species are now on the verge of extinction, while others are becoming increasingly en¬dangered. During recent decades, strict regulations governing the harvesting of some wildlife species and the trade in wildlife products have been laid down throughout the world. In Africa, all species classified as endangered are strictly protected and those that are not are only hunted under a carefully monitored quota system to ensure a sustained yield. Within Africa, however, cases of illegal hunting, or poaching, have now reached an all-time high. Several countries have reacted by increasing the numbers of their wildlife law enforcement officers, providing them with appropriate training and the best pos¬sible facilities and equipment, virtually every country in eastern and central Africa has created specific anti-poaching units to work alongside regular wildlife staff. Large government budgets have been allocated for this purpose, supported in some cases by financial and material aid from foreign governments and organizations.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr Wilbert Chagula Library, (EAF FOS B65.W5)
Wildlife law
Boshe, John I. (1986). Wildlife law enforcement in Africa