Somaliland: Government Bans Unauthorized Export of Wildlife

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Ms Bandare Environment minister

“Illegal Export of Wildlife must be stomped completely through arrests and prosecution of poachers in all parts of country” Ms Bandare

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Unscrupulous citizens benefiting from illegal export of wildlife are in for hard times following a banning order issued by the ministry of environment and rural Development-ME&RD.

The ban imposed by the ME&RD boss Ms Shukri Bandare was announced through a circular she distributed to all her ministry’s regional coordinators and copied to the national police commissioner Brigadier Abdilahi Fadal Iman.

In her banning letter Ms Bandare the environment minister wrote:

Quote- “All the addressees of this letter are hereby informed that the government has banned the illegal export of wildlife and you are therefore directed to pursue relevant activities geared towards enforcing the order” unquote

To enforce the order the minister asked the police to assist ministry officials in all parts of the country with surveillance and subsequent arrest and prosecution of persons who not only poach but illegally export wildlife from the country, the preferred destination said to be Asia.

Rare tortoise unique to somalilandAt the same Ms Bandare revealed that her ministry is about to conduct a nationwide head count of all the wildlife in the country as a prelude to establishing protective mechanisms especially through creation of sanctuary areas and national parks or game reserves.

The police force and Ministry of Environment regional coordinators were also informed to ensure that the current number of various specifies of wildlife owned or under the care of individuals or institutions are not increased until further notice upon completion of the imminent head count to be undertaken nationwide.

Said she, “While we ascertain the actual numbers and species of wildlife currently held privately in homes and hotels etc we must see to it that new animals are not captured or increased to current stocks until further notice” wrote Ms Bandare in her letter.

While this is the first action of its type in Somaliland where poaching for export of wildlife has been the norm especially in several rural areas of Awdal, Selel, Maroodi-jeeh, Sahil and Toghdeer regions that are home to many species some in danger of extinction, it remains to be seen how effective the ban order is considering the lucrativeness in the trade.

Among the species targeted by poachers are the Spurred and Leopard tortoise which is unique to Somaliland, cheetahs whose cubs are openly sold openly in the markets of Hargeisa for $50 a cub and lions to mention a few.

It is hoped that the Ms Bandare measures will deter a scenario like the one in March of 2011 that saw two rare Berbera lion cubs destine for sale in the Gulf were rescued from traffickers in Mogadishu and subsequently dispatched to South Africa where their fate remains unknown.

In the past a number of poachers have been caught red handed an much made of their prosecution that has so far ensued with nothing but talk thence hoped that the environmentally conscious Ms Shukri Bandare shall ensure that legal action is not only presumed to be but actually taken against any who is found to have contravened the her protective ban order.

A case in point is the arrest of two poachers in Baligubadle district of Marodhi-jeeh region who Two rare Berbera lion cubs rescued in Mogadishu and dispatched to South africawere caught red handed in possession of some Spurred and Leopard tortoises which is a rare species of tortoise unique to Somaliland.

The 2012 arrest and subsequent promises by police to confisticated the poacher’s car and arraigned them in court immediately are reported to have gone KABOOM! After the poachers elders intervened and secured not only their release but that of their car and the rare tortoises that were presumably trafficked as intended.

On the other hand the not in place legal parameters coupled with need for enhancing central coffers through licensed hunting is an imperative area that needs urgent action.

Hunting with Falcons in SomalilandIn a 2012 interview Mohamud Saeed Ga’ame who is Bandare’s predecessor said “Somaliland has a well established programme to facilitate wildlife hunters, in particular from the Gulf region, subject to government permits, a limit on the season and number and species of birds”

Ga’ame was then reacting to queries and fears raised over about the legality and subsequent damage to the environment by some wildlife hunters from the Gulf camped between Hargeisa and Berbera and hunting with falcons.

View images of the ill-fated brother and sister rare Berbera lion cubs

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