Tanzania hosts key training in wildlife crimes tackling

Chief accountability officer and justice initiative director at Grace Farms Foundation, Mr Rod Khattabi, speaks during the launch of one week training for experts from law enforcement from Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. PHOTO| COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Organised wildlife crime remains a cause for concern in the East African countries

Dar es Salaam. Law enforcement experts from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are attending a high-level training in Dar es Salaam to boost their skills in tackling organised wildlife crimes.

Organised wildlife crime remains a cause for concern in the East African countries.

Billed as the first-ever practical enforcement training on controlled deliveries, the one-week multiagency training in will see the participants being equipped with the necessary skills to undertake practical actions to overcome the challenges of combating organised wildlife crimes.

On Monday, the Commissioner of Police Operations and Training at the Tanzania Police Force, Mr Awadhi Juma Haji graced the training programme which draws participants from various agencies such as Wildlife, Forestry, Customs, Police and Anti-narcotics from the three countries.

The programme is part of a series of capacity building events organized and facilitated by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), Grace Farms Foundation (GFF) and the University of Washington and funded by UNDP, USAID, Global Wildlife Program (GWP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

It is designed is to enhance skills and knowledge of law enforcement personnel, responsible for combating organized wildlife crime in the region, in undertaking wildlife crime investigations including financial investigations and executing asset forfeiture. The program also seeks to cultivate synergy, foster cooperation and build capacity among the participants.

It involves practical and classroom training on controlled delivery, undercover, surveillance, financial investigation, search and arrest warrants and DNA analysis, forensic examinations as well as mentoring of law enforcement officers in the three countries to effectively follow up on seaport and airport wildlife seizures and promote international cooperation on wildlife crime investigations.

Mr Haji, who represented the Inspector General of Tanzania Police Force, Mr Camilius Wambura, said bolstering capacity and collaboration among law enforcement agencies through increased surveillance and information sharing was crucial in fighting the scourge of wildlife crime.

“Success in combating wildlife crime requires cooperative enforcement efforts, and we must work together and pool our scarce financial, human, and information resources,” he said.

LATF director, Mr Edward Phiri, said the sophistication and scope of organized criminal syndicates far outweigh the individual capacities of agencies.

He said the illegal wildlife trade was increasingly becoming a challenge and seriously undermining the law enforcement efforts.

“The key to addressing this challenge lies in implementing effective and best practices in cooperative law enforcement, which are essential for proactive, well-planned, and purposeful enforcement interventions," he said.

The training, he said, provides an opportunity for participants to share their accomplishments, expertise, knowledge and experiences related to operations, intelligence and investigations.

The chief accountability officer and justice initiative director at Grace Farms Foundation, Mr Rod Khattabi said the innovative training was a panacea for effective law enforcement.

“This time around, the training will be practically-oriented. Instead of spending days inside here, we will have field work which include search warrants, DNA sampling and arrests among others,” he said.

According to GEF, the value of illegal trade has been estimated at between $7 billion and $23 billion per year, making wildlife crime one of the most lucrative illegal businesses, often run by sophisticated, international, and well-organized criminal networks seeking to exploit the high rewards and low risks of the trade.

Wildlife criminals target elephants, rhinos, pangolins, various bird species, timber and other assorted plants for smuggling out of Africa to a number of destinations in Asia. Upskilling enforcement officers is therefore integral in stamping out this vice that is depriving countries enormous resources that would otherwise be useful in sustainable economic development.