Calls to guard against poachers

National, Normal

The National, Monday, May 16, 2011

PAPUA New Guinea has a unique and diverse natural wildlife, but is sadly becoming a target for overseas collectors and poachers, New Zealand non-governmental organisation Wildlife Enforcement Group (WEG) representative Stuart Williamson last week told participants at a week-long wildlife enforcement conference hosted by PNG Customs in Port Moresby.
“People don’t just come as tourists, or for business, they come with intentions to steal and smuggle what you have in your wildlife corridors, even through logging operations and other forms of business.
“They come to steal the birds of Paradise, the parrots, cockatoos, butterflies, even orchid plants and other wildlife and plant species.
“That is the sole reason why this conference and workshop is been held in Port Moresby to raise that awareness among the relevant authorities and government agencies so that everyone can know and understand what is happening,” Williamson said.
Another NGO, International Fund for Animal Welfare, director wildlife trade programme Kevin Alie from the Caribbean also said that there was a demand for what PNG had and possessed in terms of natural wildlife.
“PNG is such a huge country that it’s always a struggle trying to efficiently patrol its borders.
“When people take your wildlife out, it’s an attack on the sovereignty of your nation and those held responsible should be dealt with accordingly, as there are international laws that regulate these offences.
“We have come here to create that awareness and share our experiences, the knowledge and skills so that you as participants can put them into practice within your country. Its important that you start collaborating and talking so that you help each other on this issue,” Alie said.
He confirmed that there was a demand for birds, in particular, parrots, orchid plants and butterflies of different kinds.
Collectors usually take them back to their countries and depending on the supply and demand, sold them for much higher prices.
PNG Customs commissioner Gary Juffa officially opened the programme earlier in the week saying that “Customs delivers critical services for the people of PNG, securing our border and performing a vital community role”.
“To achieve this, our team leaders must be of the highest quality. As an agency Customs has a responsibility to develop our people and this programme is a critical part of building a modern effective Customs service for PNG,” he said.