WATCH: LATF MOU fosters partnerships to curb poaching and illegal wildlife trade

Elephants, rhinos and other key species in Africa are in danger of extinction due to poaching and human encroachment on their habitat. Illegal wildlife trade has been identified as a lucrative crime with poachers and wildlife traffickers now using sophisticated equipment and weapons which are indications of well-coordinated international crime rings.

It is with this in mind that The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation in combating wildlife crime in Africa. The MoU will facilitate cooperative wildlife law enforcement operations and relevant capacity building programmes between the two organizations to benefit Lusaka Agreement member states and the entire African continent.

Learn more about LATF and its involvement in Operation Cobra II to fight international wildlife crime.

James Isiche, IFAW Regional Director, (left) and Dr Bonaventure Ebayi, Director of LATF, signed the MOU at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters on May 27, 2014. Gideon Gathara, Conservation Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kenya, Benjamin Kavu Assistant Director in charge of Devolution and Community, KWS, and Francis Xavier Rwego the Head of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau attended the signing.

Speaking at the event held on 27th May 2014 at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi, the Chief Guest, Conservation Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kenya Mr. Gideon Gathara, noted the importance of working together: “With this kind of partnership we should overcome the threats of poaching.” Mr. Gathara spoke on behalf of the Principal Secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe who had been invited to be the Chief Guest.

IFAW Regional Director James Isiche stated, “To tackle this illicit trade, there is need for the formation of elaborate and sophisticated networks involving governments, wildlife authorities, law enforcement agencies, conservation organizations, citizens of Africa and, the wider world in general. No single entity, be it a nation state, government institution or otherwise, can claim to have the capability of going it alone in addressing this vice.”

Director of LATF Dr Bonaventure Ebayi lauded the organizations present at the signing – INTERPOL, IFAW and KWS – on their commitment to conserve wildlife, their habitats and the environment. He also commended the formalization of the-long standing relationship between LATF and IFAW: “Both partners, cognizant of the detrimental effects posed by wildlife crime and associated illegal trade, are agreeing to buttress efforts for effective conservation of wildlife and their habitat as well as mobilize adequate financial and human resources, support sustainability of ecological integrity, bolster ecosystem services, promote information sharing, support public education and contribute to the growing economic opportunities for Africa.”

“We need pragmatic partners and stakeholders. With IFAW we have evidence that they are practical and give what they promise,” stated Benjamin Kavu Assistant Director in charge of Devolution and Community when he spoke on behalf of the KWS Acting Director General William Kiprono.

Francis Xavier Rwego the Head of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau was also present and decried the widespread killing of wildlife and the linkages between crime and poaching: “With no wildlife, tourism as a key income earner will be greatly affected leading to declined livelihoods and standards of living.”

The LATF IFAW MoU will cover four areas of cooperation:

  • Collaboration in undertaking capacity building programmes at both regional and national levels particularly to benefit the Lusaka Agreement member states; 
  • Undertake joint fundraising to support Co-operative Wildlife Law Enforcement  activities at both the Secretariat and the National Bureaus to the Lusaka Agreement;
  • Collaboration on expanding membership to Lusaka Agreement and partnership to both the IFAW and the LATF;
  • Other cooperative wildlife management activities as may be mutually deemed appropriate.

The IFAW – LATF MoU is the second formal partnership that IFAW has signed with an international organization with aim of curbing illegal wildlife trade and poaching. The first was in 2013 with INTERPOL.

--JN

For more information about IFAW efforts to combat wildlife crime, visit our campaign page.

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