, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26 – A new report by INTERPOL on poaching has recommended the need for greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates.
The report for 2013 by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit, highlights the need for increased intelligence analysis in order to provide sound evidence for multiple count indictments where the trafficking is linked to fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
The Environmental Security Unit head, David Higgins says there is need of more integrated approach for a more effective response to poaching.
“Ivory seizures are clearly an important step in stopping this illicit trade, but this is just one part of a much bigger picture,” he pointed out during the launch of the report on Tuesday at the Canadian High Commissioner’s Residence in Nairobi.
“If we are to target those individuals behind the killing of thousands of elephants every year, who are making millions at the cost of our wildlife with comparatively little risk, then we must address each and every stage of this criminal activity in a cohesive manner.
Among the report’s key recommendations is the creation of National Environment Security Task Forces to encourage multi-agency cooperation and intelligence analysis as well as investigation units dedicated to tackling wildlife crime.
The report further proposes for deployment of INTERPOL Investigative Support Teams to provide assistance in evidence collection and analysis for elephant poaching and ivory seizures; and increased use of INTERPOL’s notices system to enhance transnational law enforcement cooperation in combating ivory trafficking.
Higgins observes that, “Information from poachers, documentation obtained during seizures, interviews with associated traffickers and other evidence, all of this needs to be systematically gathered and analyzed for a collective response.”
“INTERPOL’s global databases and network provide a unique platform to support these activities and coordinate a multinational response from law enforcement worldwide.”
The report shows that the majority of large-scale ivory seizures have occurred in maritime ports.
“The ivory is hidden in shipping containers, and it is usually concealed by other lawful goods. By these methods East African ivory originating primarily from Tanzania has been transported directly to Asian maritime transit hubs, as well as through Uganda and Kenya to Asian hubs and consuming nations, with fewer known shipments to the Middle East,” it reads.
“Such large-scale ivory shipments provide considerable opportunities to law enforcement agencies since maritime transport hubs represent logistics bottlenecks where ivory can be detected.”
In 2008, INTERPOL launched Project Wisdom to improve wildlife law enforcement in Africa, specifically targeting illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn.
Since then, INTERPOL has coordinated six operations targeting ivory and rhino horn traffickers which collectively resulted in the arrests of more than 520 persons charged with offences related to ivory and rhino horns.