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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 12, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Poachers are getting away with taking protected wildlife because the government agency that is supposed to stop them has run out of money.

The office has no funds to monitor illegal poaching activities in the country and carryout an important duty - to oversee the management of wildlife areas.

Poachers therefore are getting away with the taking of protected wildlife without being detected.

Since officers are unable to carry out awareness activities among landowners in the Wildlife Management Areas, much illegal activity goes unnoticed.

"There is poaching for fish, deer, wallaby and crocodile. People from across the border (in West Papua) come over and poach in the area," said Vagi Genorupa, a conservation officer with the Office of Environment and Conservation (OEC) in Port Moresby.

Mr. Genorupa said there is no money to maintain infrastructure in the 30 declared wildlife management areas, leaving the landowners with no option but to ignore carrying out their duties.

The country manager of the World Wildlife Fund in PNG, Kilyali Kalit, said landowners are aware of the rules governing these protected areas. However, they did not pay much attention because of the lack of government support.

He said negligence by the government had contributed to landowners losing sight of their responsibilities.

Because of this, WWF officers have been sent to certain wildlife management areas to further educate the villagers on their roles and responsibilities as caretakers of these properties.

One such case is the Tonda area in Western Province.

The area was first established as a wildlife management area in February 1975, but after 25 years the 590,000-hectare savanna and wetland habitat has made very little progress, he said. It only progressed after the WWF took over responsibility from the OEC, he said.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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