The Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) with financial support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organized a Regional Training on Forestry and Wildlife Law Enforcement and Governance held from 21st to 25thMay 2012 at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute – Naivasha. The training brought together seventeen (17) senior forestry and wildlife officers from eight African countries namely Republics of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The training facilitators included resource persons from the African Forest Forum, UNEP, WCO-RILO (ESA), Office of Director of Public Prosecutions-Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service and LATF.
The training was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife of Kenya Mr. Mohamed Wa-Mwachai who commended the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and UNEP for organizing and facilitating such a training that was critical in the fight against illegal trade in wild fauna and flora in Africa. He reiterated the need to improve the capacity and enhance collaboration amongst law enforcement agencies through increased surveillance and information sharing. He stated that fighting environmental crime successfully requires agencies to work together and pool scarce financial, human and information resources for concerted operations. He lauded the regional training workshop as an important avenue that would provide the participants with an opportunity to develop the requisite skills, techniques and knowledge necessary for an effective network in collaborative forestry and wildlife law enforcement.
The training provided an opportunity for active interaction between the officers who shared their vast experiences on law enforcement in their respective countries and particularly in their areas of jurisdiction. The participating officers were also exposed to practical aspects of governance and how best to overcome challenges of trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife and forest resources. Key concerns pointed out at the training include;
- Escalation of illegal harvesting and illegal trade in wild fauna and flora that is negatively affecting the economies of the countries;
- Inadequate capacities of law enforcement agencies, which is worsened by increasing sophistication of criminal syndicates;
- Countries not complying with multilateral instruments dealing with Forestry and Wildlife conservation at international level.
The participants underscored the need for African countries to explore innovative means of networking and increasing capacity towards strengthening law enforcement. In this respect they cited; enhanced enforcement methods, increased collaboration among and between countries and various agencies at national level including the use of detectors such as x-rays and sniffer dogs at entry and exit points as important tools for effective enforcement.
In the same vein, participants encouraged all African countries to accede to the Lusaka Agreement so as to reap the benefits accruing from enhanced cross-border cooperation that is better attained through the Agreement in addressing wildlife and forestry issues.
As part of the training package, participants visited Lake Nakuru National Park and its environs to enable them appreciate the practical aspects of Wildlife and Forestry Conservation.