Texas Game Wardens recently travelled to Kruger National Park to begin an annual professional exchange programme with South African National Parks Game Rangers.
The programme is aimed at providing professional growth and leadership development opportunities between the two agencies and to increase education and awareness of international wildlife trafficking, which negatively affects conservation efforts in both Texas and South Africa, according to TPWD.
Texas Game Wardens say they have increased the focus on wildlife trafficking operations over the last decade, including navigating through internet forums and online marketplaces where they say trade in both live wildlife and wildlife parts frequently occurs.
“The illegal sale and exploitation of wildlife resources is a global problem that has a direct negative effect on the State of Texas and could lead to the loss of Texas native species, either through the harvest of native species or introduction of non-indigenous invasive species,” said Col. Grahame Jones, Law Enforcement Director with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The release says game wardens are currently working to identify suspect sales and negotiate undercover transactions with willing sellers to purchase a wide variety of native and non-native wildlife species from around the world, removing them from the harmful animal trafficking trade.
Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. They see more than 1.8 million annual visitors, and are home to over 500 bird species, 100 reptiles, and nearly 150 mammals; including species heavily targeted by traffickers, such as leopards, rhinos, elephants and giraffes.