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Donation of Anti-Poaching Equipment

Thursday, April 28, 2011, 8:00 AM
Ambassador with park staff

Ambassador Jackson with the park staff.

Mr. Inspector General, Other Distinguished Officials from the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, Colleagues,

Last week, the world celebrated the 41st Anniversary of Earth Day.  An important part of Earth Day is to recognize and conserve the resources that nature has provided.  Cameroon is richly blessed with such natural resources, but both the flora and the fauna require careful management and protection.

Communities and individuals need to see the benefits of preserving Cameroon’s wildlife, and some may ask what they can do to help.  I am reminded of the story of a boy who was walking along a beach after a storm.  The boy saw hundreds of starfish that had been washed up on the beach, and he knew that they would not survive long out of the water; so he started picking them up one by one and gently throwing them back into the sea.  An old man watched the boy for a while and finally said, “You know you cannot throw all of those starfish back into the sea.”  Unperturbed, the boy continued to pick up the starfish and return them to the water.  Perplexed, the old man said, “Do you think you are making a difference?”  The boy responded by picking up another starfish and putting it in the ocean.  He declared, “I made a difference to that one.”

No matter how well armed, trained or intentioned we may be, we will not save every animal from poachers or every tree from loggers, but we can make a difference “to that one.”

The United States has been a steadfast supporter of biodiversity.  We have come to Bouba Ndjida National Park today to donate the remainder of what started as a $750,000 (375 million CFA francs) grant to promote biodiversity.  These motorcycles, bicycles, radios and other equipment have a value of approximately $39,000 (19 million CFA francs).  They are designed to assist the Ministry in general and the park staff in particular to combat poaching and illegal logging.

Later this year, Phase II of the Central African Regional Project for the Environment (CARPE) – a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative aimed at promoting sustainable natural resource management in the Congo Basin – will end, and Phase III will begin.  The Congo Basin forest is the second largest contiguous moist tropical forest in the world and plays a key role in securing the livelihoods of Central African citizens.  The forest also provides critical habitat for biodiversity conservation and supplies vital regional and worldwide ecological services.  In recognition of the important role of the Congo Basin forest and amidst the increasing pressures facing the forest, CARPE and other U.S. government programs work to reduce the rate of forest degradation and loss of biodiversity by supporting increased local, national, and regional natural resource management capacity.

During this International Year of the Forest, we celebrate the activities of our environment-focused programs and colleagues, and the dedication of all of our counterparts who strive to preserve Cameroon’s precious forests and wildlife.  As we look ahead, we will continue to emphasize building host-nation capacity and ownership to ensure sustainability.  In Cameroon and across the region, I look forward to greater capacity building and emphasis on prosecutions of illegal activities in the environmental sector, especially illegal logging and poaching.

Thank you.