NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 6 – In apparent contradiction to indications by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that poaching may finance terror activities, Interpol Executive Director Jean Michel Louboutin on Wednesday revealed that they cannot prove it.
“My answer must be very clear. I am a policeman and to make such an assertion I have to have evidence and at this stage there is no evidence,” he said to laughter because a statement issued by UNEP on the very same day read:
“Studies indicate that the illegal trade in wildlife and timber may help finance terrorism and organised crime across the world.”
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner however came to his organisation’s defence arguing that they have received intelligence to that effect.
“I’ve learnt something very interesting from a policeman, there’s a difference between intelligence and evidence. We know from anecdotal evidence across different parts of the world that these networks are not always completely separate,” he said.
He went on to explain that had an adequate number of security agents been assigned to investigate environmental crimes globally, there probably would be that conclusive evidence.
“The difficulty is there are very few investigative capacities in individual countries that are actually following the environmental crime trail,” he said.
The two were speaking on the sidelines of the UNEP International Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference that brought together anti-poaching agencies from across the world.
At the conference Sheldon Jordan was voted in as the chair of the Wildlife crimes working group with Mark Cheruiyot of the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) being voted in as the vice-chair.
And in addition to working with Interpol to bring an end to poaching, Attorney General Githu Muigai said the government was also in the process of recruiting one thousand rangers to join the newly established anti-poaching unit, “to work in the hotspots of Narok, Tsavo, Isiolo and Eastern Kenya.”
And even as the KWS recorded an increase in the Elephant population, Muigai said the spike in poaching was worrisome, “I think 190 elephants have been killed this year so far…we have in the region had 35 rhinos killed this year. Last year 29 rhinos were killed and I think for us this is a crisis of unprecedented proportion.”