The Africa Animal Law Conference brings together animal and environmental advocates


05 October 2023

Compiled by Tafadzwa Mvududu

In a bid to foster greater legal protection for wildlife in Africa, Speak Out For Animals (SOFA), in partnership with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Center for Animal Law Studies, and Dan Church Aid (DCA), recently hosted an Africa Animal Law Conference in Harare.

The conference, held on September 13–14 under the theme “Animals Connecting People,” served as a platform for experts, activists, and organizations to advocate for stronger animal welfare laws and conservation efforts across the continent.

ZELA underscored the vital link between animals and the environment, highlighting the need for comprehensive legislation that protects both. ZELA’s Fortunate Chilenje managed to shed light on the impact that changes in animal populations can have on ecosystems and human well-being. She emphasized the importance of considering animals as integral components of a balanced ecosystem.

Responding to questions on human-wildlife conflict, ZELA Land and Natural Resources Lead, Ignatious Maeresa, urged policymakers and stakeholders to adopt a holistic approach to handling issues related to human-wildlife conflict. Regarding the human-wildlife conflict compensation fund, Maeresa said a lot still needs to be done to make the scheme clear so victims know how to claim compensation.

Various speakers from different parts of Africa shared their successes and best practices in animal protection and conservation efforts. The presentations covered a wide range of topics, including animal law legislation, animal health and welfare, animal nutrition, habitat preservation, the role of local communities, and climate change.

Judge Nizoki from Kenya introduced the economic dimension to animal conservation and protection, emphasizing the need to support responsible tourism, which enables individuals to experience and connect with the natural environment, fosters an understanding of conservation efforts, and encourages a deeper connection between nature and the environment.

As the Africa Animal Law Conference’s curtain came down, some participants said they were left with a renewed sense of purpose and a shared commitment to advocate for animals and the environment. Thus, the event served as a catalyst for positive change, providing a platform for diverse voices to come together and champion the rights of animals.

Advocate Ever Chinoda, founder and co-director of SOFA, expressed delight at the overwhelming response and the productive discussions at the event. She emphasized the need for continued dialogue and cooperation to ensure that animals receive the legal protection they deserve across the African continent.

With the momentum gained from this conference, ZELA implores governments, development partners, and communities across Africa to collaborate more closely to develop and enforce robust animal welfare legislation. By recognizing the intrinsic value of animals and their interconnectedness with the environment, Africa can pave the way for a sustainable future that respects and protects all living beings.

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