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US Interior Secretary to Help Fight African Wildlife Trafficking


FILE - Kenyan Wildlife Rangers standing near the carcass of an elephant in Tsavo East, Kenya, in this June 19, 2014, photo.

FILE - Kenyan Wildlife Rangers standing near the carcass of an elephant in Tsavo East, Kenya, in this June 19, 2014, photo.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell arrives in Africa this week to examine the issue of wildlife trafficking. She told journalists Tuesday that Washington had a role to play to end the illegal trading of wildlife and its products.

Before her visit to Gabon, Kenya and South Africa, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the Obama administration is concerned about the rise in cases of wildlife trafficking from Africa to Asia, Europe and the United States. She explains why the United States, last year, banned lion and elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.

"The United States Wildlife and Fisheries Services does not believe that sufficient measures are in place in that country (Zimbabwe) to put conservation efforts into local communities. That is the position that we have taken.

Zimbabwe has not addressed those issues, where as Nambia does. It is very important that a country works with us and work with local communities to make sure that the resources get to the people," said Jewell.

President Robert Mugabe’s government and tourism operators argue the ban affects revenue generation for Zimbabwe.

But Zimbabwe continues exporting wildlife, animals and products to Asia as part of its "Look East Policy" adopted in the early 2000s, after most Western countries imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his senior officials following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses.

Last month, Zimbabwe said it had exported elephants to China as part of its efforts to reduce the animals’ population, which Harare says is now affecting the ecosystem in the African country.

During her Africa visit that begins Thursday, Jewell is expected to meet with government officials, non-governmental organizations and conservation leaders.

According to the U.S. State Department, African countries are major sources for ivory, rhino horn and other illegally taken flora and fauna destined predominantly for markets in Asia.

Jewell traveled to China and Vietnam last summer in a similar effort to further work to crack down on black markets at home and internationally.

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