Wildlife Law Enforcement Agencies Gather to Enhance Skills of Wildlife Law Prosecution
Boosting law enforcement skills of stakeholders is critical to detecting, managing and adjudicating over wildlife cases
In spite of evidence showing wildlife crime is linked to other forms of serious offenses, most countries apply wildlife policies and legislation that fail to treat wildlife poaching and trafficking as a serious offence. As a result of the weak laws, wildlife crime offenders are never profiled despite their despicable acts of illegal killing and trafficking of wildlife.
It is in this response that 30 representatives from wildlife and law enforcement institutions in Ethiopia are gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a three-day Wildlife Judicial and Prosecutorial training. Convened by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the training will enhance participants’ skills in detecting, handling and adjudicating wildlife cases in the country.
The training is part of a two-year program, funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and led by IUCN NL (National Committee of The Netherlands), which is committed to prevent and combat wildlife crime in the Horn of Africa countries of South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan. The Horn of Africa is emerging as a major region of wildlife crime, both as a source and transit route for illicit wildlife products mainly ivory, rhino horn, skins of wild animals and, live animals.
“Effective law enforcement is one of the important ways to end illegal killing and trafficking of wildlife,” said Henk Simons, Senior Expert Nature Conservation at IUCN NL National Committee of The Netherlands. “Other strategies we emphasize in our program are transboundary cooperation and the active engagement of local communities in preventing and combating wildlife crime.”
“Wildlife offences have become more sophisticated and are involving organized crimes, weapons, and customs offenses. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen all the players within the justice system in the fight against wildlife crime,” says Ato Girma Timer, Director of Wildlife Protected Areas Development & Protection at EWCA.
Mr Girma who officially opened the training on behalf of the EWCA Director General Mr Dawud Mume, further added, “The training will be fruitful as it has focused on important topics related to wildlife crimes and is provided to concerned professionals.”
Species conservation stakeholders attribute the weak enforcement of wildlife laws to lack of mechanisms for monitoring wildlife crimes. However, inadequate capacity in personnel and equipment remains a stumbling block to accelerating efforts aimed at abating threats to the long-term survival of Africa’s iconic species. Elephants, rhinoceros, great apes, and large carnivores are among the most endangered species affected by illegal killing and trafficking in Ethiopia.
Dr. Philip Muruthi, Vice President for Species Conservation at AWF, observed that combating wildlife crime entails inter-agency and regional collaboration among other efforts. “Such partnerships enhance efficiency in illegal wildlife products interceptions at airports, seaports and border points, it also strengthens wildlife crime prosecutions, and enables the application of law enforcement in the major landscapes,” said Dr. Muruthi.
“Proper case management and punitive sentencing for wildlife crimes is a critical component in the arrest, investigations, judicial process and sentencing of wildlife criminals,” stated James Isiche, Regional Director IFAW East Africa. “This training seeks to ensure that judicial and prosecutorial personnel are well equipped with requisite capabilities to prosecute wildlife law violators and offer deterrent sentences,” added Isiche.
Activities during the training include rapid analysis of wildlife policies and laws in Ethiopia and deliberations by stakeholders on their roles and contributions towards fighting wildlife crime, the gaps in wildlife enforcement legislation and the weaknesses in investigations and prosecutions.
IUCN NL (National Committee of The Netherlands)
IUCN NL is the Dutch national committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. Within the international IUCN umbrella organization, IUCN NL works with NGOs, companies, governments and scientists to strengthen human wellbeing through worldwide nature conservation. IUCN NL’s activities focus on four themes: nature conservation; climate, water & food; environmental justice and green economy. IUCN currently has 36 Netherlands-based member organizations.
IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
(AWF) The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s unique conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands. www.awf.org.
About EWCA (Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority)
The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) is established pursuant to proclamation No. 575/2008. It is a government organization under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, given the authority to undertake conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife in Ethiopia. EWCA works closely with national and international stakeholders on wildlife conservation. For more information, visit our website www.ewca.gov.et