Photo: UNEP, River near Menongue
Angola boasts environmental assets including pristine coastline as well as forests and grasslands comparable to those that draw many tourists to neighbours Namibia and Zambia.
The country’s wildlife includes lions, great apes and giant sable antelope, a critically endangered species found only in Angola and listed as critically endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature. The Great Elephant Census is expected to release the results of its Angola survey in the coming months. Bird life includes African Grey Parrots, whose decline across the continent is widely blamed on their illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
The government recently launched a string of initiatives to enhance conservation and stiffen law enforcement. To demonstrate its commitment to curb elephant poaching, Angola submitted a National Ivory Action Plan as part of its membership of CITES, the UNEP-hosted international convention designed to prevent trade in wild animals and plants from threatening their survival.
The plan includes stiff penalties for poaching and ivory trafficking and stronger policing, including more training for wildlife rangers and the posting of a wildlife crime unit to the international airport in the capital, Luanda. In March, officials presented a draft law banning the sale of ivory, a move that would end the open sale of ivory artifacts at Luanda’s bustling Benfica market. Angola also is discussing the establishment of several vast trans-frontier conservation areas, including one that would include the wildlife-rich Okavango delta in Botswana, and another that incorporates Namibia’s wild Skeleton Coast.