The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Africa Doesn’t Need a Task Force Funded by American Taxpayers

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


President Obama has wrapped up his eight day tour of Africa on July 3, 2013, during which he has pledged policies aimed at improving the continent.  One such pledge came about during a speech in Tanzania, when the president announced his forthcoming initiatives against the poaching and trafficking of protected African wildlife.  According to a July 1, 2013 article from The Hill, “Obama touted the effort in a joint press conference Monday with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, where Obama called wildlife ‘inseparable from Africa’s identity and prosperity.’”

The president appears ready to take action on the issue, already having signed an executive order on Monday July 1 establishing a task force and an advisory panel with the aim of fighting wildlife trafficking.  His plans also include providing “training and technical assistance” to South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Kenya according to a July 1, 2013 press release.  This training and assistance is estimated by the White House to cost $10 million, while the total cost of establishing a task force and funding its activities activities of the task force has yet to come to light.

Though a July 1 Washington Post article makes the claim that “U.S. anti-poaching efforts have suffered a financial hit because of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration,” the July 1 press release from the Office of the Press Secretary cited that the United States provides more than $12 million each year to USAID for the purpose of reducing wildlife trafficking.  This comes in addition to the cost of training hundreds of officers in this realm, as well as various other projects dedicated to ending wildlife poaching and trafficking which the American taxpayer funds.

Despite the nobility that comes with being a protector of wildlife, it is doubtful whether initiatives such as these are effective means of doing so.  Though enacted with the best of intentions, history has shown that making illegal the sale and production of materials of threatened animals only exacerbates the problem.  A great example is the population of elephants in African countries: according to the Hoover Institution Journal in 2011, “After Kenya banned all hunting in 1977, its population of large wild animals declined between 60 and 70 percent” while in Zimbabwe, where hunting was permitted, “wildlife populations had increased by 50 percent [in ten years]… By granting local people control over wildlife resources, their incentive to protect it has strengthened.”

In a time when America desperately needs to cut spending, dispensing millions on projects that are clearly misguided in the name of saving the animals seems an unnecessary and costly mistake.  Africa needs an improvement in property rights to protect its wildlife populations, not a task force funded by the American taxpayer.

 

 

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