Southwest CPW Ships Boxes to Wildlife Officers in Africa
This summer the State Forest Service, The National Forest Service and Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife had a series of feel-good stories about grants obtained and good work done for the flora and fauna of Colorado. Most of these had strong reference to voluntarism of the highest order from Colorado citizens. Although the stories are short the work done represent days, weeks and months of work by entire teams of people. All are to be commended for their efforts. The following is another feel-good story that reaches out across the world.
CPW ships boxes of donated conservation items to wildlife officers in Africa
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In recent weeks, large boxes packed with work pants, boots, shirts, socks, belts, spotting scopes, binoculars, backpacks and much more left the loading dock of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region office bound for Africa.
They are part of a nine-state project to donate gear to conservation officers in six African nations, working in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. State Department and the Wild Tomorrow Fund, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting threatened and endangered species and the habitats they depend on for survival.
Frank McGee, CPW area wildlife manager, brought the idea back from a leadership program last fall at the National Conservation Training Center attended by conservation officers from 30 other state agencies as well as conservation agencies from 12 African nations.
“I learned a great deal about the struggles our African counterparts face on a daily basis,” McGee said. “As it is in the United States, conservation of natural resources can be complicated in Africa. In some countries there, things are pretty bleak.”
One classmate asked if they would accept donations and what, exactly, they needed. It turned out their needs were pretty basic, McGee said. So he got permission from Dan Prenzlow, manager of CPW’s Southeast Region, to gather obsolete law enforcement items to donate to conservation officers in Africa.
“Our agency is dedicated to preserving wildlife and if we can help further that cause in Africa by donating old or obsolete items, I’m all for it,” Prenzlow said.
McGee asked his CPW colleagues to search their storage lockers for gear they no longer use and consider donating it. Soon, the CPW loading dock was stacked high with gear. As shipments from CPW and other state wildlife agencies started landing in Africa, Wild Tomorrow Fund staff reported they were having an immediate impact improving morale.
The International Conservation Chiefs Academy (ICCA) hopes projects like this strengthen global law enforcement relationships to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. The ICCA works with 18 African nations and next year will add seven Southeast Asian countries.
CPW, alongside federal agencies, hosted 42 African conservation officials in Denver as they visited the U.S. in mid-September. Training programs included: adaptive leadership, peer group problem solving sessions, anti-corruption practices, relationship building, wildlife trafficking trends, forensics, evidence and inventory management, working across cultural differences and more.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife is committed to conserving our wildlife resources here at home, and contributing to the global fight against wildlife trafficking,” Prenzlow said. “The criminals who illegally trade in wildlife and wildlife parts operate across borders. So it is imperative that agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife cooperate across borders to fight them and catch them.”