Environmental Civil Society Urges DR-Congo to Reverse Pay-to-Poach Decision

“Environmentalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo urged the government to reverse a move to tax rather than forbid poaching, saying the move endangered millions in conservation funds… In a joint decision this month, the DRC’s environment and finance ministries said killing, owning or selling protected species would be allowed on payment of a tax.

It now costs $2,885 to kill a forest elephant, while the amount to kill, eat or sell a mountain gorilla is $1,925.

(Kinshasa AFP)

The national youth council of environmental civil society in the Democratic Republic held a press briefing on July 3, 2021 in the city of Kinshasa to solicit to Madam the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment Eve Bazaiba to repeal this new decree.

“After analyzing the said decree, we understood in the spirit of the said decree a sense of unsustainability in the management of biodiversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a way to facilitate in the days to come poaching and illegal trade in protected species and threatened with extinction” declares Mbuya Kilabi Bertin, president of the national youth council of environmental civil society.

This structure emphasizes that the Nyamugabo decree goes against certain international agreements and conventions ratified by the DRC aimed at protecting the environment.

(La Beur)

Here-below the Memorandum of Environmental NGOs grouped within the Environmental Civil Society in the Democratic Republic of Congo sent to the Minister with more than 150 signatories.

Attention to Her Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Republic Democratic of the Congo.

Concerns: Denunciation of the liberalization of poaching, illicit and illegal trade of totally protected species in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Request for repeal of the inter- ministerial Decree n ° 006 / CAB / MIN / EDD / 2020 and n° CAB / MIN / FINANCES / 2020/069 of July 24, 2020 fixing the duty rates, taxes and fees to be collected at the initiative of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in terms of fauna and flora; published in the official journal in 2020 between the Ministries in charge of Environment and Sustainable Development and of Finances.

We, representatives of Environmental Civil Society’s organizations in the DRC, present this to denounce to the global community the illegality of the inter-ministerial Decree, cited above, more precisely in its articles 4, 5 and 6 respectively stipulating that:

Article 4
Totally protected wildlife species, listed in Table 2 in the appendix to this Decree (citing in particular the rates of capture, slaughter, detention of 3 gorilla subspecies, chimpanzee, rhinoceros, elephant, Okapi, hippopotamus etc.), can only be hunted under the permit provided for by the regulations in force. (…)

Article 5
The permit for import, export, re-export, capture, slaughter or hunting as well as the certificate of origin and legitimate possession are valid for a period of six (06) months. The applicant for the permit or certificate sends his request to the Direction of Nature Conservation, for processing.

Article 6
The threatened plant species and their sub-products listed in Table 5 in annex to this Order, may not be exported, imported or re-exported except by virtue of the export, import or re- export permit provided for by the regulations in force. (…);

Thus, authorizing the poaching and illegal trade of totally protected, endemic and critically endangered species, yet prohibited by the laws of the Republic and by international agreements and conventions ratified by the DRC including CITES, IUCN, etc.

Law n ° 14/003 of February 11, 2014 relating to Nature Conservation stipulates in its article 14, that it is forbidden to: ” take, fish, capture, harass or deliberately kill specimens of protected species. Also ” intentionally disturb these species, especially during the period of reproduction, hibernation or migration”; destroy, damage, remove, collect the eggs of the species or move their position; damage or destroy breeding sites, resting places or any natural habitat in which these species live at any stage of their life cycle. Of hold, transport, exchange, sell or buy, offer or transfer free of charge specimens or any part thereof taken from the wild; hold, cede, sale, purchase or transport any product whose packaging or advertising claims to contain specimens belonging to one of totally protected species and, finally, exhibit in public places these specimens.

Considering the key roles that these fully protected species play in the restoration of the ecosystems through the symbiotic relationships they maintain with other species of fauna and flora when their protection is effective;

Considering also the cultural symbol that these species embody in everyday life of local communities and Pygmy Indigenous Peoples through their traditional knowledge that is passed transmitted from generation to generation and their cultural values that would be totally destroyed by this illegal trade and export of their inheritance;

Bearing in mind the efforts made by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo under the leadership of His Excellency the President of the Republic in support of its local, national and international partners in the area of biodiversity conservation until removing certain protected areas from the list of World Heritage in Peril of the UNESCO, such as the Salonga National Park, and particularly, changing the status conservation status of mountain gorilla by IUCN;

On this basis and by virtue of the continuity of the State, and considering the inappropriateness of this inter-ministerial Decree, we ask for the urgent involvement of Madam Vice Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in collaboration with his colleague, His Excellency the Minister of Finance, to cancel the said Decree in its entirety in order to hope for the sustainability of the conservation of fully protected species for the benefit of present and future generations in the DRC.

Done in Kinshasa on August 02, 2021

For the Environmental Civil Society of the DRC