A recent meeting backed by the United Nations in Rwanda concluded with a call for stronger law enforcement to protect gorillas in ten African countries. This two-day meeting was organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) of the U.N Environment Program (UNEP). It was the first gathering of U.N agencies, regional governments, local wildlife authorities, NGOs, and global experts to handle the wildlife crime that threatens the lives of Africa's gorillas. During the meeting, participants reviewed current conservation activities affecting four gorilla subspecies in East and West Africa and discussed solutions in curbing the major threats of poaching for bushmeat and live trade in these great apes.
A news release by the UNEP/CMS stated that local, national, and international laws are crucial in protecting gorillas and their jungle habitats. The U.N is working closely with the INTERPOL and national governments to stop the trade in live apes and bushmeat, as well as illegal harvesting of timber. The INTERPOL even offered its global network of national offices to help combat wildlife crimes. According to Bernd Rossbach, INTERPOL's Specialized Crime Unit Director, a global response is required to battle environmental and wildlife crime. He further added that it is important for all countries to work through a multi-disciplinary approach that uses INTERPOL's National Central Bureau network and its Environmental Crime Program to communicate intelligence and provide support in capacity-building efforts.
The meeting also stressed the need to tighten the collaboration between governments and coordination with missions such as MONUSCO, which is stationed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In July 2010, MONUSCO helped in transferring orphaned gorillas to a sanctuary to combat illegal cross-border trade in young gorillas. In addition to that, there is also the CMS Agreement on the Conservation of Gorillas and their Habitats. Since taking effect in 2008, this agreement provided the framework for regional cooperation in the long-term protection of gorillas in the ten countries of the Congo Basin. As of now, the treaty has been signed by six countries: the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
I'm very happy and proud that the U.N is considering that the protection of gorillas in Africa should be taken seriously. But what really pleases me about this report is the idea of regional cooperation between nations where gorillas live. So far, only ten nations that are part of the Congo Basin have agreed to work side by side and help one another in the battle to save these gentle giants. There are four more countries in that region where gorillas live. I just hope that these four nations will collaborate with their neighbors, and help put a stop in the illegal poaching and trading of gorillas in Africa. There are some good news where in Rwanda, the mountain gorilla population is on the rise long after the genocide in the 1990s. However, there are other countries whose gorilla numbers are not progressing the way Rwanda's are. This is why I firmly believe that it is very important that all African countries where gorillas live should team up, in order to end this ongoing threat of poaching and bushmeat trade.
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