Intelligence is increasingly referred to in the wildlife sector, but is it clearly understood and the most effective method of wildlife protection?
Intelligence-Led Policing (ILP) originated from the necessity in community policing to focus on using informants and surveillance techniques to combat repeat offenders, as the reactive focus on crime was not effective enough. ILP is also known as Intelligence-Led Law Enforcement (ILLE) and was not a major part of policing styles until after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the USA.
Lotter was trained by a former police detective in how to investigate crimes, maximize the use of witnesses and prepare case dockets. He developed an extensive informant network in and around the three small protected areas and was responsible for recruiting assistance and support from a small military unit from the SA Intelligence corps stationed at Bushbuckridge in the Lowveld at the time. The result of the strategy adopted was that this team more than doubled the previous record of annual number of arrests as well as convictions achieved by any other group within the Department.
Similarly, when the PAMS Foundation started the Ruvuma Elephant Project (REP) in Tanzania in 2011, it was evident that conventional approaches were not going to be the answer. Despite significant donor funded projects having provided substantial funding and equipment leading up to that time, the poaching situation was way out of control and it appeared impossible to stop.
Around the period there was an average of more than one elephant carcass recorded per day. A truly intelligence-led, multiagency strategy was adopted and within a few months’ impressive results were being achieved and the rate of poaching decreased. This trend continued and further improved (Lotter & Clark, 2014) until today. During 2016 there were only two elephant carcasses recorded for the entire year.
In 2014 PAMS Foundation elicited the involvement of the crack National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) in 2014. It was a game changer in every ecosystem they worked. PAMS also supported the establishment of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism’s Wildlife and Forestry Crime Unit (WFCU), which has been operating closely with the NTSCIU and jointly they have been achieving internationally unparalleled results.
ILP success is not automatic, as it is critically important to follow best practice principles to ensure the integrity of leadership, have as few parties involved as possible and all partners should be performance-driven, regularly assessed and held accountable. There are serious risks involved from growing too big too quickly due to successes achieved and the surrounding publicity.
Non-specialists with huge budgets are too easily led astray or corrupted. Donor money placed in the wrong hands is far worse than a situation of too little or even no funding and hence it is preferable to not contribute any donor money to projects that are not led by people of known good integrity.
Despite the risks and dangers of ILP, various parties that have been supporting the intelligence-led strategy financially regard it as the most effective way to protect wildlife. David Bonderman’s Wildcat Foundation is the principal donor of PAMS Foundation and the NTSCIU and were the first major benefactor to finance the intelligence-led elephant protection work in Tanzania.
“The Wildcat Foundation has supported scores of wildlife projects across the Sub-Sahara, and we have consistently found the most effective approach to reducing poaching is intelligence-led enforcement through a well-managed PPP model,” says Rodger Schlickeisen.
Alexandra Kennaugh of the esteemed Oak Foundation states, “Intelligence-led enforcement is a cornerstone of Oak Foundation’s funding strategy because we believe it is a critical element in curbing the illegal killing of elephants and rhinos.”
The groups who are implementing ILP and applying best practice principles are truly leading the way in terms of turning the tide on poaching.