International and Inter-agency Collaboration Essential to Preventing Wildlife Trafficking

International and Inter-agency Collaboration Essential to Preventing Wildlife Tr
Friday, 21 November, 2014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Extensive collaboration and cooperation at an international level are key ingredients in fighting wildlife trafficking wildlife law enforcers agreed at the conclusion of a training workshop to increase capacity and expertise in the Horn of Africa.

The workshop began on Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was hosted by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) in partnership with International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), and Interpol.

The training saw 37 officers from agencies such as wildlife law enforcement (Customs Departments) and CITES management authorities in 9 African and Arabian Peninsula countries learning practical hands-on skills in the identification and correct handling of species commonly trafficked in the regions. Training focused on the wildlife trade status of species, wildlife crime and enforcement, international trade conventions and organisations and inter-agency cooperation to improve international and regional communications. The countries represented were Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Jordan.

“Many species of animals are illegally poached to supply the global demand for luxury trinkets and possession of live wildlife as pets. This alarming situation calls for international and inter-agency collaboration which, for the last week, has been well demonstrated through this training. To stem wildlife trafficking, this collaboration needs to extend beyond this training and continue even after the participants return to their workstations, said Commander Kebede Bizuneh, the Transnational Crime Intelligence Coordinator and Delegate of Director of National Central Bureau in Ethiopia at the closing ceremony.

Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW, said his organisation was committed to help law enforcers hone their skills to work even more effectively to bring wildlife trafficking to a stop.

“Given the prevailing levels of wildlife crime in the world, there is a need to improve the capacity for collaboration amongst law enforcement agencies through information sharing. Fighting wildlife crime requires concerted efforts involving pooling financial, human and information resources. We must share intelligence because this is one of the most critical prerequisites to effectively fight the ever-increasing sophistication in wildlife crime,” said Kelvin Alie, IFAW Program Director for Wildlife Trade.

The training is part of a larger vision to strengthen the law enforcement response to wildlife crime at the regional level through the establishment of wildlife enforcement networks. The work would be carried out under a continent-wide program called ARREST (Africa’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) and implemented through a partnership between IFAW, African Wildlife Foundation, and Freeland Foundation.

ARREST partner AWF has conducted similar trainings in other countries to strengthen in-country and cross-border collaboration in combating the illegal wildlife trade. This has included magisterial trainings in Kenya, to be expanded to other countries that have become poaching and trafficking hotspots.

“Wildlife crime is complex and so ensuring there are arrests, prosecutions and convictions means ensuring those who make the arrests, who prosecute the accused, and who convict the guilty are informed, trained and up to the task,” said African Wildlife Foundation CEO Patrick Bergin.

Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities – valued at billions of US dollars annually. It ranks in the top most lucrative transnational organized crimes, behind drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting. According to an IFAW report Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, ivory smuggling and the wildlife trade has been linked to other forms of organized crime including terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking. Ethiopia has become a major transit hub for illegal ivory in recent years and the country’s stockpile of confiscated ivory is estimated to be 6.3 tons. 

IFAW has trained more than 2,450 officers in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean since 2006. Trainings are held in collaboration with national institutions in the respective countries and other organizations including Interpol, Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) and Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA).

Ends

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

About 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. High Resolution photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

About African Wildlife Foundation

Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF’s programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises that benefit local African communities, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c) (3) in the United States. For more information, visit www.awf.org and follow us on Twitter @AWF_Official and Facebook at facebook.com/AfricanWildlifeFoundation.

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Experts

Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
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Dr. Joseph Okori
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Executive Vice President
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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