The IFAW said the training is part of a larger strategic framework to strengthen the law enforcement response to combat wildlife crime at the regional level by improving cooperation among African countries’ law enforcement authorities.
“We at IFAW have long recognized the intricacies of wildlife trafficking and have in response strived to nurture and support transnational and multiagency networks as a means of countermanding this iniquity,” IFAW CEO Azzedine Downes said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Downes said the training, which kicked off in Uganda, drew participants from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan and Sudan.
He said the workshop aims to empower officers from customs departments, wildlife law enforcement and wildlife management authorities with the necessary skills to deter wildlife trafficking.
The workshop is being carried out under a continent-wide program called ARREST (Africa’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) and implemented through a partnership between IFAW, African Wildlife Foundation, and Freeland Foundation.
Wildlife trafficking poses a serious threat to the survival and conservation of many wildlife species globally. Elephant ivory, rhino horn, reptile skins and leopard skins are among the most illegally traded wildlife products in the region.
“This and other training opportunities under the ARREST program will ensure law enforcement officials from the Horn of Africa, Central, and East Africa are better equipped to combat wildlife trafficking and reporting of wildlife crimes,” Downes said.
He said participants will take the form of practical, interactive sessions, field visits, hands-on skills used in the identification and correct handling of species commonly trafficked in the regions.
Training will focus on the trade status of key species, dynamics of wildlife crime and enforcement, relevant international trade conventions and organizations, and inter-agency cooperation to improve international and regional communications.
Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities. It ranks in the top most lucrative transnational organized crimes, behind drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting.
According to latest IFAW report, ivory smuggling and the wildlife trade has been linked to other forms of organized crime including terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking.