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Fighting against corruption and wildlife trafficking : the need to strengthen collaboration between all actors involved in the sector

Antananarivo, March 31 and April 1, 2022. Madagascar is internationally recognized as a high priority conservation country where 80% of the fauna and flora are endemic.

One of the main threats to the island's biodiversity is the trafficking of precious woods and wildlife, which is fueled by corruption at all levels and represents a real scourge generating numerous environmental and socio-economic impacts for the country.

The project entitled "Countering Corruption and Wildlife Trafficking", funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and officially launched in October 2021, aims to contribute to the reduction of wildlife trafficking by fighting corruption and improving natural resource governance. A forum to share the challenges of this project was held on March 31 and April 1, 2022 at the Hotel Carlton Anosy, with a series of sharing between all internal and external actors involved in the project.

The implementation of this project is based on a partnership between TRAFFIC, Transparency International - Madagascar Initiative (TI-MG) and the Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG), under the lead of WWF. This consortium combines different expertise and skills to combat illegal trade in wildlife and/or protected species, reduce corruption in the sector and support the strengthening of law enforcement mechanisms at all levels. The overall approach of the project is aligned around three strategic objectives, namely reducing corruption in the natural resources sector to improve socio-economic conditions and biodiversity conservation; strengthening national and regional law enforcement mechanisms; and supporting the coordination of government, civil society, anti-corruption agencies, and anti-trafficking actors.

Particularly alarming figures attest to the seriousness of the illegal timber and wildlife trade in Madagascar. Between 1998 and 2014, approximately 104 tons of rosewood and ebony were exported, with a legal volume of only 39%, or 40,550 tons. In addition, turtles are also illegally trafficked on a large scale with over 21,000 endemic turtles seized between 2018 and 2021 according to TRAFFIC data. Institutions specializing in the two sectors, precious wood and wildlife, including the MEDD, the Turtle Survival Alliance and the Rosewood Special Chain, shared their experiences in the fight against these scourges.

The use of financial investigation and money laundering techniques, which was shared by the TRAFFIC and SAMIFIN teams on April 1, 2021, can greatly improve the investigation of wildlife and forest crimes. A conference-debate also provided an opportunity to openly discuss the challenges but also solutions to fight corruption and end trafficking of unique species in Madagascar.   
To effectively fight corruption and trafficking of endangered species, all stakeholders, such as the Malagasy government, civil society, anti-corruption agencies and different actors at all levels consolidated their commitment and strengthened their synergy to fight together against corruption and wildlife trafficking. This sharing forum was one of the first expressions of this collective mobilization.