Experts discuss new strategies to curb wildlife trafficking in Kenya



Date Published
Kenyan and U.S. wildlife experts were meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday to seek ways of combating wildlife trafficking in Kenya where rampant poaching threatens the wildlife in the country.

The inaugural meeting, which addressed key conservation challenges, will also identify national priority actions to combat the illegal killing and trafficking of wildlife in Kenya.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General William Kiprono said at the opening of the meeting that the illegal killing of terrestrial mega-fauna such as elephants and rhinos, and marine species is now causing a conservation crisis.

“The government has remained steadfast in supporting conservation through a deterrent wildlife law, inter-agency security collaboration mechanism, more efficient and better coordination at ports of entry and exit, as well as budgetary support for ranger recruitment and routine operations,” he said.

The forum was convened by TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade monitoring network, in collaboration with the KWS and supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Wildlife Trafficking Response, Assessment and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) Project.

Conservationists say with the growing demand, major challenges have emerged, notably, the rapid escalation in poaching and trade of endangered species.

They have also decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.

Poached ivory is believed to be exchanged for money, weapons and ammunition to support conflicts in the region

“This workshop provides an excellent opportunity for different players to sit down together and plan a united, cohesive response to some of the key challenges of conservation,” said Wildlife TRAPS Project head, Nick Ahlers.

The Wildlife-TRAPS Project, implemented by TRAFFIC in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), strengthens the knowledge base, resolve and cooperation of governments, inter-governmental organizations, the private sector and NGOs, in tackling wildlife trafficking between Africa and Asia.

The project is currently developing a report that outlines the scope and scale of illegal wildlife trade in Kenya and linkages to illegal wildlife trade dynamics in the East Africa region.

South Africans deploy inspector at airport to fight wildlife crime

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) — Environmental Management Inspectors, commonly known as the Green Scorpions, have been deployed at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to combat wildlife crime, it was announced on Monday.

This is to ensure compliance and to undertake enforcement action related to the National Environmental Management, Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) and its Regulations, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said.

The regulations also relate to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations and regulations related to the import of Alien and Invasive Species.

A team of 10 Compliance officials will ensure that CITES export and re-export permits are endorsed after physical inspection of consignments and that CITES import permits are cancelled after use, the DEA said in a statement.

The Green Scorpions will also ensure that TOPS and Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing permit conditions are complied with, the DEA said.

Trade bans for commercial purposes relating to CITES listed species have been put in place since March 19, 2015 for Lao People’ s Democratic Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria due to noncompliance with CITES plans, and the Green Scorpions need to ensure that these bans are enforced, DEA spokesperson Albi Modise said.

The inspectors will ensure that prohibited invasive species do not find their way into the country without being detected and are destroyed, where necessary, said the spokesperson.

People who do not comply with the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations will either be prosecuted or issued with Compliance Notices and Directives, Modise warned.

It is envisaged that Green Scorpions will also be deployed at some of the other designated Ports of Entry and Exit across the country over a period of time, dependent on resources available.

The Green Scorpions will work closely with other law enforcement agencies and departments at the airport, including the South African Police Service (SAPS), Customs, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Department of Health and Department of Home Affairs, Modise said.

Through joint enforcement operations, the Green Scorpions and the SAPS have already detected noncompliance with the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations related to reptiles, and notices will be issued in response thereto, according to the statement.

It is critical to understand that permits are required for the export and import of CITES-listed species, such as cosmetic products made from Aloe Ferox and crocodile leather products, such as watch straps, handbags and belts, the DEA said.