Wednesday, October 8, 2014
The International police organization, known as Interpol, pledged Monday to assist the East Africa region to build a regional intelligence database as part of effort to combat wildlife crime.
Interpol Assistant Director in charge of the Environmental Security Sub-Directorate David Higgins told a media briefing in Nairobi that the information will help dismantle criminal wildlife syndicates.
"We want the region to rely on intelligence analysis to eliminate illegal wildlife crime," Higgins said during the launch of the Interpol Environmental Security Office regional bureau.
The office, based in Nairobi, will serve 13 countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Seychelles and Djibouti. It will work on a number of environmental issues with a particular focus on addressing the illegal trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn.
The region's population of elephants and rhinos has been threatened with extinction as a result of illegal wildlife trade.
"We will ensure the region launches targeted responses against the criminal networks," the director said, adding that illegal wildlife crime is a transnational crime that requires greater collaboration among countries.
Interpol is planning to expand its presence in Eastern Africa so as to help national governments combat poaching and other forms of environmental crime. Interpol's Environmental Security Office will assist in enhancing cooperation between government, the private sector and NGOs, and thus boost the capacity of law enforcement agencies to act against the illicit wildlife trade
Kenya Wildlife Service Communication Manager Paul Udoto said that Kenya is seeking collaboration with regional and international partners to eliminate illegal wildlife crime.
Kenya has emerged as a major source and transit point for illegal wildlife crime. "We want to leverage on Interpol's experience on combating other crimes in order to save our wildlife species," Udoto said.
Kenya's tourism industry depends on its wildlife resources and beach destinations, and conservationists have blamed the continued poaching on the ready markets for the criminal networks that harvest the ivory.
The demand mainly emanates from Asia, which has pushed the price of a 1 kg of ivory from 100 U.S. dollars in the 1970s to over 1,500 dollars currently in the black market.
Conservationists have called for serious measures to tackle porous borders responsible for trafficking of ivory, drugs and other criminal syndicates.
Speaking during the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on Saturday, participants urged the government to step up security patrols and coordinate with neighbouring countries to tackle poaching.
The march took place in 136 cities and a host of towns across six continents. In Kenya, it started at the National Museums of Kenya and ended at the historic Uhuru Gardens.
Conservationist warned that rhinos and elephants may be wiped out in the next 10 years, if poaching is not addressed. "This march educated the public on the need to protect our ecosystem, which is the main foreign earner as well as source of jobs for our young people," Paula Kahumbu, Wildlifedirect executive officer said.
Kenya has lost about 116 elephants and 26 rhinos to poachers. Comparatively, the country lost 384 elephants and 30 rhinos in the year 2012 and about 289 elephants and 29 rhinos in 2011.
The march followed a recent report, Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory, which detailed how ivory is smuggled into the market.
The report by Born Free USA, said the Mombasa Port registered the most illegal ivory seizures worldwide in 2013-2014, replacing Dar es Salaam Port.
"Mombasa has the highest number of seizures globally by volume, some 18 tonnes between 2009-2013, but despite a large number of containers seized in Asia and known to have originated from Tanzania, very few seizures are actually made at Tanzanian ports, likely due to mismanagement and corruption at port facilities," says the report.
It states that nearly all the ivory nabbed came from neighbouring countries. KWS director William Kiprono has been advocating for a sustained awareness campaigns on the plight of the rhinos.
Speaking during the World Rhino Day celebrations in Nyanyuki, Kiprono said deterrent and severe penalties will be applied for poachers and dealers of rhino products to robustly tackle the current high poaching threat to rhinos.
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Monday, October 6, 2014
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