“Regulate, manage and monitor harvesting, trade and use of wildlife to ensure it is safe, sustainable and legal.”
The fourth and final principle outlined in the CPW’s joint statement on COVID-19 related wildlife management challenges highlights the need to regulate, manage and monitor different aspects of our utilisation of wildlife resources.
When left unchecked, we know that both the extractive and non-extractive use of wildlife resources can lead to issues for both animal and human health – this includes the possible emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases.
It is therefore critical that efforts are made to ensure that the utilisation of wildlife around the world is conducted both safely and sustainably.
In order to effectively introduce such regulations, it is essential that they are made using sound guidance, standards, risk assessment, risk management tools and effective enforcement and monitoring measures.
IPLCs have shown that they can play a significant role in managing and monitoring different aspects of our wildlife and, going forward, it is essential that they are appropriately integrated into our response to COVID-19 related challenges.
In one example of this, scientists have been working with the indigenous San people in Namibia and Botswana in order to utilise their tracking abilities.
This provides researchers with accurate data on biodiversity and the health of wildlife species, especially when it concerns the use of location data and population densities. Such information is vital if we are to continue using wildlife sustainably, and in turn support wider ecosystem health.
Properly managing and regulating wildlife not only benefits animal and human health – it also aids in combatting illegal activities.
In the case of poaching, reports of which appear to have increased in the wake of COVID-19, the issues of illegal activity and animal health go hand in hand.
The recent rise in poaching has highlighted the effectiveness of conservation tools, such as sustainable hunting programs, when looking to regulate, manage and monitor wildlife use.
Evidence has shown that this increase in poaching has, in part, been attributed to a drop off in revenues from the hunting sector caused by international travel restrictions. As a result, game guards and patrol units were unable to stop individuals from engaging in poaching activities due to a lack of funds available for their employment.
However, there are other cases where hunting operators have continued to employ game guards and patrol units to combat poaching, despite the significant revenue losses associated with international travel restrictions. We have seen instances of this in countries such as Zimbabwe and Indonesia, among countless others, where the threat of poaching, and the subsequent fight against it, is still ongoing in these difficult times.
By finding new ways to regulate, manage and monitor wildlife use, while also supporting existing mechanisms that support such goals, we can work towards a more safe and sustainable future.