Challenges #5

Heading to Cape Town, I was extremely excited to begin working for an NGO that combined both my strengths and passions. I was not prepared for the difficulty that comes with one) working in a developing state and two) working for an NGO that deals with organized crime and corruption.

Lack of communication between government agencies and NGOs has been the most frustrating delay since my internship began. For my policy proposal (that will be published and distributed to various sectors), I need an excessive amount of data and trade figures to be able to accurately analyze the effect of poaching on my species and the economic effects poaching causes domestic markets in an already impoverish State. Without going into too much detail, part of my policy proposal will advise the Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to end the sale of confiscated (poached) abalone. DAFF has been benefitting off this action (millions of USD) and in theory, is supposed to fund the conservation of living marine resources. Instead, it just fuels corruption. Thus, DAFF is reluctant to provide figures on abalone seizures since the CITES delisting of South African abalone. Additionally, I hit a rather bizarre set back when I was attempting to track down a CEO of a major fishery in Namibia. At a meeting with Customs, my boss was (off the record) told to stop trying to find this CEO as he went off the grid after the CHINESE MAFIA tracked him down, wanting to use his permits for illegal exports through South Africa. Can’t make this stuff up.

My research question has not changed but rather answering my prompt will be a lot more difficult than I had previously assumed.

Keenan Connors

Interning in Cape Town, South Africa for the summer as a Research and Policy Intern for TRAFFIC

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