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  • Writer's pictureEPI Secretariat

Angola's First Workshop on Wildlife Crime

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Angola is a vast country, sparsely populated and rich in biodiversity. The wildlife and people of Angola have suffered through four decades of war which came to an end in 2002. Angola was once home to an estimated 70,000 elephants in the mid-1970s, however the story of Angola’s elephants today is a very different one. Today, only 3,000 elephants, a fraction of the historical population, is thought to survive, mostly in the remote south east. If anything, the situation has worsened since the war ended, as the government has struggled to contain poaching. Moreover, Angola has become an important regional export hub for illegal wildlife products, including ivory and rhino horn, much of which comes from neighbouring countries Botswana, Namibia, DR Congo and Zambia.


The Angolan authorities, determined to turn this situation around, identified weaknesses in the legal system which were being exploited by international criminal gangs. Weak penalties for some offences, coupled with critical gaps in legislation, had made Angola a country where wildlife crime was ‘worth the risk’.


The Elephant Protection Initiative supported the Angolan Government in hosting the country’s first ever workshop on wildlife crime. Some 30 senior prosecutors and police officers, from the length and breadth of Angola, spent two days outside Luanda, from 15-17 January, learning about wildlife crime and ways of stopping it. The attendees came from provinces ranging from Cabinda to Cuando-Cubango, and they were joined were Angola’s Environment Minister, Paula Francisco Coelho.


The workshop had a special emphasis on the illegal trade in ivory. The Angolan authorities have made several important seizures of ivory and rhino horn in recent years, destined for East Asia. Sophie Ledger, of Stop Ivory and the EPI Secretariat, helped organise the workshop and said ‘


We welcome the Angolan government’s desire to clamp down on the illegal trade in wildlife products. We hope this workshop will help officials better understand the powers at their disposal and highlight priority areas for future training and resources.

Through this IWT Challenge Fund project the Ministry of Environment and Attorney General’s Office are aiming to build more robust prosecutions against wildlife crimes, through strengthen laws and the publication of a Guide to Wildlife Crime Charges. This guide helps prosecutors and investigators learn from international best practice and enforce the law to the maximum extent possible.


In the coming weeks the government will host a further symposium on wildlife crime for the judiciary and, with the help of WCS Uganda, develop a national database of wildlife criminal offenders. Nationwide news coverage of all these activities has spread the message - Angola is now a country taking a stand against wildlife crime. For the sake of Angola’s wildlife, and that of the wider region, this is a welcome development.


The EPI is delighted to work with the Angolan government to build a better future for elephants and for the people of Angola. DEFRA UK, the UK Embassy in Angola, and Traffic all provided invaluable support.




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