IFAW, Environment Canada and INTERPOL in Botswana at the Front Lines of the War on Wildlife Trafficking
The dramatic need for the training was underlined earlier in the week when Tanzania, who sent two officers to the training, seized 1,041 elephant ivory tusks.
Canada is one of the leading countries which supports INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Program through a grant from Environment Canada.
The training attracted wildlife enforcement officials and police officers from Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The curriculum was designed by experts from Environment Canada and covers international wildlife law, interagency cooperation, risk management, interrogation techniques, investigative procedures, national legislation and enforcement tools.
“This training comes at a critical time as iconic species such as rhinos and elephants face tremendous threats to their survival that can only be met with increased regional cooperation,” said Kelvin Alie, Prevention of Illegal Wildlife Trade Program Director. “Thanks to the combined expertise of INTERPOL, Environment Canada and IFAW, we’ve increased the capacity to stop wildlife thieves and safeguard animals in the wild.”
“Canada is aware that the missing element for most developed countries is effective tools such as identification guides at the point of entry and basic enforcement training,” said Richard Charette, from Environment Canada and creator of the intensive six-day curriculum. “For Canada to have complete control of what enters the country in terms of protected species, we must give countries the best support to stop the export of illegal goods before they get to Canada and North America.”
The six-day workshop culminated in the planning of enforcement operations in the participants’ home countries in the coming months. The operations are designed to halt some of the region’s worst wildlife traffickers. The end results should be less ivory in illegal markets, more wildlife in the wild and a clear message that wildlife trafficking is a serious crime with severe consequences. Ivory smuggling in particular is often the work of international criminal syndicates who fund their illicit activities with the proceeds from the lucrative ivory trade. Recent reports estimate the cost of ivory at USD $750/kg in Guangzhou, China.
“Addressing capacity issues such as this training session is a vital component of our strategy in reducing environmental crime in its complexity. Our goal is to improve the detection and apprehension of suspected wildlife criminals, whilst also furthering cooperation and collaboration between men and women, agencies and countries.” said David Higgins, Manager of INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme.
IFAW’s Prevention of Illegal Wildlife Trade training program is just one element of its work to protect elephants and wildlife. Other efforts include protecting critical habitats; rescuing, rehabilitating and relocating wildlife at risk in southern Africa and India; educating customs officials in the wildlife transit countries of the Middle East and North Africa; mounting public and political campaigns in EU; and conducting public awareness campaigns in China to reduce demand.