Theresa Sowry, the SAWC CEO and Altin Gysman, Head of the College’s Protected Area Integrity department and field ranger training unit, were honoured to be invited to attend the United for Wildlife (UFW) Global Summit, held in London on 03 and 04 October 2022. Over 300 global leaders attended the event, which was hosted by Lord Hague, Chair of The Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Invited guests included conservation, law enforcement and private sector companies who are part of the UFW network.
The summit, the largest held to date, facilitated the exchange of the latest ideas, learnings, and best practice as part of the shared mission to combat the illegal wildlife trade. It also highlighted the pioneering work being done to drive policy change and support criminal investigations, while galvanising a re-doubling of effort in the collective fight to end the illegal wildlife trade.
Marking the importance of the summit, the role of the various role players and collaboration across sectors, HRH Prince William, who founded United for Wildlife with the Royal Foundation in 2014, delivered the keynote speech. This addressed the serious and organised nature of illegal wildlife crime and its damaging impact on global biodiversity and local communities.
“The illegal wildlife trade is a crime that robs us all of our most precious natural resources and funds organised crime; the harms of which are often directly felt by the most vulnerable communities,” said Prince William.
Theresa Sowry was interviewed by relevant media and Altin Gysman addressed the UFW network on the role and training of rangers and the continued risk the ranger community face on a daily basis. He was joined by the Thin Green Line Foundation and Global Conservation Corps (GCC) who paid tribute to wildlife rangers who are on the frontline against poachers. GCC also honoured the late Anton Mzimba and presented on the filming and directing of RHINO Man the Movie, much of which took place at the College.
Other speakers highlighted their pioneering work to drive policy change and support criminal investigations while galvanising a re-doubling of effort in the collective fight against the illegal wildlife trade. The speakers also announced new policies and unveiled global partnerships to help end the illegal wildlife trade, worth up to $20 billion per year and which is associated with violent crime, corruption, and other forms of trafficking. These speakers included Xolisile Khanyile, Director of the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Egmont Group Chairperson; Raja Kumar, President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF); Jon Godson, Associate Director, International Air Transport Association; Mary Rice, Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency; and Matthew Strickler, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
“We are very honoured to have been invited to this prestigious and important summit. It is gratifying to know that we are all part of an extensive network fighting the illegal wildlife trade, which is among the five most lucrative global crimes. Each day rangers face the onslaught, with many of them losing their lives; one of them being the Late Anton Mzimba a past student of the College who together with other rangers was honoured for being on the frontline to help protect iconic species such as rhino,” commented Theresa.
“UFW is playing a major role in helping bringing criminal syndicates to book having contributed to over 450 law enforcement cases and having trained over 100,000 people either directly through resources created under United for Wildlife, or indirectly through resources inspired by its global network. This work continues to help increase deterrents across the entire chain of demand and supply,” she added.
Since its founding in 2014, UFW has established two Taskforces, the Transport and Financial Taskforces, representing large proportions of the global shipping, airline, and financial industries. These Taskforces use their resources and networks to identify, report, and disrupt wildlife trafficking and prevent their members from becoming unwitting participants.