UPDATED: Preventing Illegal Wildlife Trade in The Horn of Africa
UPDATE: 8.5.11 At IFAW's July 2011 Prevention of Illegal Wildlife Trade Training workshop in Djibouti, participants from five Horn of Africa countries learned the basics of preventing illegal wildlife trade and challenged themselves to set up a Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network (HOAWEN) to combat illegal wildlife trade in the region. The workshop was conducted by IFAW in partnership with the country’s department of Veterinary and Livestock services and supported in part by WCS.
The venue for the workshop was significant to resolving the problem as it is well documented that the strategic location of Djibouti port at the tip of the Horn of Africa makes it a major transit route and focal point for illegally traded wildlife derived from the surrounding countries that were in attendance to the workshop. Most of the trade is destined to West Asia. Elephant ivory, rhino horn, crocodile skin, leopard skin and snake skin are amongst the most common illegally traded wildlife products. In addition, there is a substantial illegal trade in live animals, including big cats (cheetah and lion cubs), primates and reptiles.
Participants were taught the latest wildlife smuggling techniques, evidence management, CITES permit certification and species identification by specialist trainers led by Vivek Menon - with over 20 years of law enforcement experience in Asia; Peter Younger – INTERPOL expert and ex-police officer; Dr Elsayed Mohammed – a veterinarian and specialist on CITES rules and regulations; wildcat specialist, Dr Mordecai Ogada, WCS Regional Coordinator for East Africa; and Dr Abraham Nkhata – from the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) - who gave practical examples of how cross-border cooperation has led to successful trans-border operations in countries signatory to the Agreement.
By far, the most exciting sessions were the practical exercises. Customs inspection drills brought out the best of participants’ creativity regarding smuggling techniques. The prize went to a Djibouti ‘passenger’ who passed through customs with ivory hankos (signature seals) packed inside a packet of female tampons! A Somali ‘customs officer’ was credited for arresting three smugglers who had fake CITES import permits.
This Prevention of Illegal Wildlife Trade training was the second by IFAW East Africa. The first workshop, with 23 participants from 13 South, Central and East African countries, was held in Nairobi in October 2010. Thus, in under ten months, we have trained 60 customs and wildlife enforcement officers from 18 countries to join the global list of more 1,200 from the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, Oceania, South Asia and Russia Commonwealth States that IFAW has trained since 2006.
IFAW has more enforcement trainings planned for other regions of Africa, including Tanzania, Botswana and Malawi, and we will update you with the details in due course.
ORIGINAL POST 7.5.11: The International Fund for Animal Welfare in partnership with Djibouti's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Resources are currently hosting a Prevention of Illegal Wildlife Trade training at the country's port and capital city - that also goes by the same name - Djibouti.
It is well documented that the port's strategic location at the tip of the Horn of Africa, is a cross road for illegally traded wildlife derived from the surrounding countries of Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan, with most of it destined to West Asia.
Elephant ivory, rhino horn, crocodile skin, leopard skin and snake skin are among the most commonly illegally traded wildlife products while a substantial illegal live animal trade includes big cats (cheetah and lion cubs), primates and reptiles.
The training, aimed at combating this illegal wildlife trade, was opened on Saturday 2nd July by Mr Idris Abdul, Djibouti's Secretary General at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and IFAW East Africa's Regional Director Mr James Isiche.
James pointed out that the objectives of the workshop included creating awareness amongst the relevant law enforcement agencies, enhancing capacity and increasing networks amongst the officers. On his party the Secretary General remarked that his country will spare no effort to protect and preserve its animals and habitats and his wish was that the workshop would enhance the capacity of the agencies present to carry out their mandate.
Up to 37 officers, drawn from the port police, Veterinary officers, Customs, Wildlife and representatives from the Ministries of Justice and Finance are involved in the training.
The East African office of Wildlife Conservation Society, through its coordinator, Dr Mordecai Ogada, has given part support to the implementation of the training. And in recognition of the cross border nature of this wildlife crime, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force is also represented by Dr Abraham Nkhata in addition to the presence of Mr Peter Younger - an INTERPOL expert.
These efforts combined with other wildlife law enforcement trainings identifying wildlife trade issues, and how best to utilize existing resources across agencies, is an agenda IFAW will continue to pursue and update you about.
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to protect animals in crisis around the world, visit http://www.ifaw.org