Liban Mohamed Farah

2022 IVLP Impact Award Project: Combating Wildlife Trafficking in PuntlandSomalia

Liban Mohamed Farah is the director of planning and policy development at Puntland Ministry of Environment and Climate change. He regularly rescues cheetahs from illegal wildlife trafficking and rehabilitates them in his conservation sanctuary for animals. Liban also spearheaded an initiative to plant more than 1,200 commiphora myrx trees in the Sanaag and Bari regions of Somalia. Liban is a lifelong advocate for the environment and wildlife conservation. 

IVLP Impact Award Project: Combating Wildlife Trafficking in Puntland

Wildlife trafficking in Puntland, Somalia is a serious problem. Cheetah cubs are frequently poached in Puntland and trafficked to nearby countries where they are sold as luxury pets to the wealthy. In addition to cheetahs, a variety of other specimens are trafficked. These include antelope, exotic birds and reptiles. The wildlife population cannot sustain the substantial uptick in trafficking. This project consolidated and supported a systematic approach to reducing wildlife trafficking.

The first step of this project was to launch an education and advocacy campaign through radio, television and social media. An estimated 200,000 people, or 10% of the country’s population were reached through this campaign and the level of public awareness for wildlife trafficking was thereby considerably raised. This project also enlarged the network of trafficking informants and strengthened the regional structures of the ministry of environment, agriculture and climate change, as well as involving important stakeholders from the local government, courts, and police force. These groups came together in a training workshop that also included students from local universities, members of civil society organizations, and the media.

Since the training, these groups have been better able to work together to develop procedures and infrastructure for the disposal or relocation of confiscated specimens. Through this project, the issue of wildlife trafficking has been brought to the attention of the wider population. A toll-free hotline was set up where the public can report suspicious activity related to wildlife trafficking, and this heightened awareness has led to the arrest of a syndicate involved in the trafficking of a lizard known as the shield-tailed agama (Xenagama taylori) which is endemic to the Horn of Africa.

IVLP Exchange Experience 

Liban was a participant in the IVLP Project: Combating Wildlife Trafficking, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Mississippi Consortium for International Development.

U.S. Communities Visited Virtually 

Washington, DC; Helena, MT; Charleston, SC; Seattle, WA

Country: Somalia

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