Illegal Wildlife Trade Amasses USD 23 Billion annually, Still targets Rhinos, Elephants
Maritime Illegal Wildlife Trafficking between the Asian and African coastlines is still rampant, authorities are thus upgrading skills of their taskforce in combating the crime
Illegal wildlife trade is among the five most lucrative illicit trafficking globally and estimated to be worth up to USD 23 billion annually, and counting.
The key wildlife species that are targeted by wildlife criminals include elephants, rhinos, pangolins, various bird species, timber and other assorted plants being smuggled out of the African continent, mainly destined to the Asian markets.
Between 70 and 90 percent of wildlife contraband volume, are trafficked by sea, in containerized cargo due to minimal risk of interception and arrest. It was observed.
To address the threats, the project is focused on Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar seaports, as well as Kampala dry port.
That came to light during the Regional training aimed at bolstering capacity of enforcement officers to combat illegal transcontinental maritime wildlife trade between Asia and Africa.
The five-day multiagency training, held in Arusha, brought together participants from various law enforcement agencies including wildlife, forestry, police, prosecution, customs and other conservation bodies in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Rod Khattabi the Director of Grace Farms Foundation, during the Capacity Building Training Workshop Held in Arusha, Tanzania, June
Representing the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Francis Michael, the Assistant Director of the Tanzania Wildlife Division and Chairperson of the National Task Force Anti-poaching, Robert Mande, graced the occasion.
Speaking in Arusha, Robert Mande asserted that the program brings together participants drawn from the three East African countries to effectively promote international cooperation on financial environmental crime investigations in the region.
The Director for Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), Edward Phiri said the team of more than 25 participants is undergoing training sessions, with the aim of reducing or ultimately eradicating maritime trafficking of wildlife between Africa and Asia.
He indicated that the solution to effectively combating wildlife crime is anchored on best practices in cooperative law enforcement, which are critical to proactive, well-planned and more purposeful operations.
It revealed that traffickers use legitimate transport, logistics services and commercial trade routes to illegally move wildlife and their products from source to consumer countries.
Tanzania is one of the seven member states to the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora.
The treaty also includes Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, Liberia, Zambia, and Congo Brazzaville and three signatories namely Ethiopia, Eswatini and South Africa.
Rod Khattabi, a former US Department of Homeland Security (HSI) Federal Agent and currently the Chief Accountability Officer and Justice Initiative Director at Grace Farms Foundation, stated that the public-private partnership is the most promising model for achieving substantive results in disrupting transnational organized crime syndicates involved in environmental crimes.
“In partnering with LATF, US Department of Homeland Security – HSI and its Global Trade Division, UNDP, USAID, University of Washington-Seattle, and GEF we will maximize our assets in achieving successful outcomes”, he added.
The program was organized by Grace Farms Foundation (USA), Lusaka Agreement Task Force, US Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the University of Washington in Seattle USA.
Funded by the Global Wildlife Program, Grace Farms Foundation, GEF, UNDP and USAID, the capacity building workshop is the second in a series which started in Mombasa, Kenya.
The United Nations Development Program – (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) project dubbed “Reducing Maritime Trafficking of Wildlife between Africa and Asia” is a USD 4 million partnership initiative aimed at curbing maritime wildlife trafficking, targeting key routes and transit points between Africa and Asia.
Implemented by UNDP since 2018, the project is part of the GEF-financed, World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program (GWP).