Illegal wildlife trade war gains momentum as experts get new fighting tips
Gadiosa Lamtey, The Citizen
August 3, 2022
The second phase of a regional training, involving Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda,
that seeks to upskill enforcement officers in fighting illegal wildlife
trade is currently underway in Dar es Salaam as international organizations
buttress their efforts to combat maritime trafficking of wildlife between
Africa and Asia. The past training programs were conducted in Mombasa,
Kenya and in Arusha, Tanzania with the last one scheduled to be held in
Uganda in October, 2022.
The Conservation Commissioner of the Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS),
Prof Dos Santos Silayo, graced the opening session of the five-day
multiagency training in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
The regional training has drawn participants from enforcement agencies
namely wildlife, forestry, police, prosecution, customs and other bodies
from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Prof Silayo said that one of the key challenges to effective law
enforcement in Africa is the deficiency of knowledge and skills among law
This, he said, was largely due inadequate cooperation among states and
agencies and insufficient resources to proactively safeguard the
environmental heritage against illegal exploitation.
To effectively mitigate the negative effects occasioned by wildlife crime,
said Prof Silayo, there was a need to pragmatically enforce the applicable
laws and regulations and make them as stringent as possible to ensure that
such training programs are instrumental in bolstering the law enforcement
capacity of the agencies in addressing these potent threats in Africa.
He affirmed that Tanzania had made significant strides in curtailing
wildlife crime and promoting conservation during the past few years. He
highlighted some of the notable achievements made by the country including
amending its laws to enhance penalties for wildlife related offences that
currently attract jail sentences of up to 30 years as well as strengthening
cross border wildlife security.
The Assistant Director at the Tanzania Wildlife Division who doubles as
Chairman for the National Taskforce for Anti-Poaching (NTAP) in the
Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Robert Mande lauded the
Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) and the collaborating partners for
convening the regional training programs.
He said the programs would go a long way in strengthening the law
enforcement capacity of member states to the Lusaka Agreement on
Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna
and Flora, a regional environmental treaty.
Sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Grace Farms
Foundation (GFF), the training is a brainchild of the LATF, Grace Farms
Foundation (GFF), the US Department of Homeland Security (HSI), the
University of Washington, the Global Wildlife Program and the Global
Environment Facility (GEF).
“This is why we are here as a partnership of LATF, US Department of
Homeland Security - HSI and its Global Trade Division, UNDP, USAID,
University of Washington-Seattle, and GEF. We want to optimize our
resources and impart relevant skills on how to surmount this challenge,”
said Mr Rod Khattabi who formerly worked under the US Department of
Homeland Security (HSI) Federal Agent and currently the Chief
Accountability Officer and Justice Initiative Director at Grace Farms
He underscored that illegal wildlife trade is among the largest
transnational organized crimes, often operated by well-organized criminal
syndicates all located in different towns, regions, countries and
The Director of LATF, Mr Edward Phiri, exuded confidence that upon
completion of the training sessions, participants will have what it takes
to reduce and ultimately eradicate maritime trafficking of wildlife between
Africa and Asia.
“The solution to this lies in sound and even more importantly best
practices in cooperative law enforcement, which are critical to proactive,
well-planned and more purposeful operations” he said.
Mr Phiri reiterated that during the training, participants will among other
things share their expertise, knowledge and experiences in criminal
intelligence and investigations as well as the evolving modus operandi of
wildlife and forest law offenders.
In addition to Mr Khattabi and Mr Phiri, the other instructors in the
ongoing session are HSI Senior Special Agent (HSI Houston), Mr Jose Goyco,
Professor Samuel Wasser from the University of Washington, Salimu Hakimu
Msemo, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), United
Republic of Tanzania, and Stephen Terrell, Principal Legal Officer, Asset
Recovery Agency at the Assets Recovery Agency of Kenya.
Tanzania is one of the seven (7) member states to the Lusaka Agreement
composed of Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, Liberia, Zambia, and Congo Brazzaville
and three signatories namely Ethiopia, Eswatini and South Africa.
Available data depicts that illegal wildlife trade is among the four most
lucrative illicit trafficking globally and estimated to be worth up to $23
billion annually, and counting.
Wildlife criminals target elephants, rhinos, pangolins, various bird
species, timber and other assorted plants for smuggling out of Africa to a
number of destinations in Asia.