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The world is facing an unprecedented wildlife crisis. The challenge is huge and has recently experienced a dramatic acceleration. The crisis is particularly severe in Sub-Saharan Africa were a growing list of unique wildlife species faces extinction, including iconic species such as elephants, rhinos and lions. This crisis most directly affects the local communities, who are dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services for their livelihoods, but it also represents a tragic loss of irreplaceable heritage on a global level.
Recently, there has been a development of wildlife trafficking on an organised scale, involving international criminal and terrorist networkswho use the revenue generated from wildlife trade to finance war efforts and other criminal activities. Illegal wildlife trade in endangered species thus represents a real threat to national security of many countries.
The nature of the crisis is complex, with many interlinked causes, requiring a broad and holistic approach. Interventions will be needed at all levels of society – local, national, regional and global – addressing both the supply and demand sides.
The European Union is currently finalising a strategy to address the wildlife crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, identifying the principle threats and gaps in current attention as well as the most appropriate responses.Special attention is given to rural populations in the vicinity of wildlife-areas, aiming to improve their livelihood while reducing their reliance on the exploitation of wild resources.