Natural Resources Conservation in East Africa

Science Center Objects

The U.S. Agency for International Development‘s regional mission in East Africa (USAID/EA) and contributing USAID bilateral missions in the region have partnered with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) to strategically leverage DOI expertise as it pertains to wildlife poaching and wildlife trafficking.

Antelope in East Africa

Wildlife trafficking has become one of the most lucrative illicit markets in the world, generating between $70 and $213 billion each year. 

The Science Issue and Relevance: Wildlife trafficking has become one of the most lucrative illicit markets in the world, generating between $70 and $213 billion each year. Populations of target species such as elephants, rhinos, big cats, and pangolins have been decimated by poachers and highly organized trafficking syndicates. Some species, such as forest elephants and black rhinos, have been extirpated in certain areas. East Africa has emerged as a major hub for wildlife trafficking due to its rich biodiversity and relatively well-developed transportation infrastructure. Recognizing the importance of coordinating U.S. government efforts and resources to address this critical issue, on July 1, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking (E.O. 13648). The U.S. Agency for International Development‘s regional mission in East Africa (USAID/EA) and contributing USAID bilateral missions in the region have partnered with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) to strategically leverage DOI expertise as it pertains to wildlife poaching and wildlife trafficking. The goals of this partnership are to help build and facilitate capacity within host-country governments, improve national and international networking and coordination, and share best management practices.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: USGS is providing science expertise to DOI-ITAP under this USAID partnership. As a first step to a regional engagement in East Africa, DOI-ITAP has worked with USAID/KEA’s Environment Office to provide staffing to manage the Participating Agency Program Agreement (PAPA) and develop a program that unites local efforts to counter wildlife trafficking. Baseline analysis, as discussed by USAID/KEA and DOI-ITAP and based on other work being carried out in the region, identified three areas as the primary focus areas for DOI-ITAP assistance in the region: Strategic Partnership Creation and Support, Provision of Technical Assistance, and Information Sharing. Specific methods may include literature reviews, direct technical assistance, and coordination.

Elephant in East Africa

Some species, such as forest elephants and black rhinos, have been extirpated in certain areas of East Africa.

Future Steps: In early 2017, technical assistance will be provided to a core wildlife conservation area in Kenya on ecological modeling development and land-use planning. Other future activities may include overseeing an evaluation process that will measure the effectiveness of DOI-implemented projects; coordinating the integration of activities sponsored by international and regional organizations, such as the CITES Secretariat, TRAFFIC, regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs), INTERPOL, and other relevant entities; and reporting on project activities to the USAID East Africa Regional Office and relevant U.S. Embassies.