Training workshop for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Wildlife Crime busters
Jointly organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), the training will specifically tackle issues on wildlife trade status by species, wildlife crime and enforcement, international trade conventions and organisations, inter-agencies cooperation and national legislations and enforcement.
The practical and interactive sessions will aim to equip the officials in the prevention of illicit wildlife trade and to learn practical, hands-on skills used in the identification and proper handling of species commonly traded illegally in Africa and smuggled into other regions.
The illicit and unsustainable trade in wildlife is a major threat to Africa’s rich and irreplaceable biodiversity. Many species are illegally harvested or poached to supply the global demand for luxury goods, trinkets, exotic pets and meat.
Speaking while opening the four day workshop, Dr Noah Wekesa, Kenya’s Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, lauded the organisers of the workshop for their efforts in combating illegal wildlife trade. He further commented that wildlife crime levels were rising in Africa, and there is need for inter-agencies cooperation in sharing information needed to fight the sophisticated wildlife criminal gangs particularly on elephant ivory and rhino horn.
In his remarks at the opening of the workshop, the LATF Director, Bonaventure Ebayi, welcomed the officials and said that the Force’s goal was to train officers to effectively combat wildlife crimes. “The sophistication and scope of organised syndicates far outweigh our capacities and point to the fact that illegal wildlife trade is seriously undermining our law enforcement efforts,” said Ebayi.
Azzedine Downes, IFAW’s Executive Vice President, pointed out that, “The LATF is investigating the illegal trafficking of almost 28 tonnes of African ivory and 10 rhino horns amongst other species from four countries either of origin or as ports of exit from Africa mainly to Asia. These were seized between January 2009 and September 2010. Such seizures should sound alarm bells for all concerned state agencies and organisations as it may just be a tip of the iceberg since some illegal consignments move across borders undetected.
“With the emerging trends in wildlife crime where gangs are bound to utilise technology such as mobile phones and the internet with utmost effectiveness and efficiency, the illegal trade in wildlife poses a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species in Africa and globally. The financial cost of the illicit wildlife trade runs into billions of dollars and its environmental costs are immeasurable,” added Downes.
IFAW has in the past organised similar training workshops in the Northern Africa and Middle Eastern countries, Oceania and the Caribbean.