Nairobi, 14th March 2014. The Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, handed over assorted investigation, and surveillance equipment to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as part of its distribution schedule of enforcement equipment to all National Bureaus of the Parties to the Lusaka Agreement. The equipment has been acquired through the support from the Canadian High Commission to Kenya under their Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. This is in line with LATF’s mission and capacity building initiatives to continue enhancing law enforcement efforts of Parties in addressing widlife crime in Africa. The support will enhance LATF interventions with national agencies and benefit enforcement officers at LATF and Lusaka Agreement member states as well as across their borders.
The main beneficiary national bureaus include but not limited to: Congo National Bureau (BNAL-Congo), Division of Wildlife – Forestry Development Authority of Liberia (FDA), Tanzania Wildlife Division (TWD), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). During the ceremony, LATF also took the opportunity to brief the media about the successful coordination and outcome of the inter regional enforcement operation code named “COBRA II” also partly supported by the Canadian High Commission to Kenya. Operation Cobra II was carried out between 30th December 2013 and 26th January 2014 in 28 African Countries in Asia and Africa. The Operation resulted in the seizure of 36 rhino horns, over 3 metric tons of elephant ivory, over 10,000 turtles, over 1,000 skins of protected species, over 10,000 European Eels and more than 200 metric tons of rosewood logs as well as arrest of more than 400 suspects . Most significantly, relevant criminal information on illegal trade syndicates and activities were shared as well as innovative approaches and best practices in law enforcement to serve as basis for follow ups and future similar operations.
Commenting on the handing over of the equipment by the Canadian high Commission in Kenya, LATF Director Mr. Bonaventure Ebayi said: “we continue to explore and improve law enforcement techniques in the region through identifying, procuring and distribution of specialized equipment to National Bureaus of the Lusaka Agreement.” The Director also stated that given the escalating levels and sophistication of illegal trade in wildlife, LATF recognizes the need for a more organized and sophisticated response to tackling the problem by Law enforcement Agencies. He deeply thanked and appreciated the Canadian High Commission in Kenya for the generous support and assured his Excellence Mr. David Angel that the equipment will be put to good use believing that the perpetrators of wildlife crimes will face a more formidable and coordinated response from Law Enforcement Agencies especially in Lusaka Agreement member states and neighboring countries.
His Excellency Mr. David Angel, the High Commissioner of Canada to Kenya stressed that the current situation of wildlife crime within the African region and globally requires concerted efforts to be tackled effectively. The complexity of the crime especially with its linkages with other serious types of crimes touching on national and regional security such as terrorism and rebellions has become of great concern and the Government of Canada will always be part of the strategic solution to the vice. He commended LATF and KWS for promoting cooperation and interagency collaboration in addressing the challenges and encouraged other agencies to emulate such outstanding relationships.
Dr. Patrick Omondi representing the Acting Director General of KWS lauded the efforts of the Canadian government for extending support to LATF and reiterated that Kenya is proud to be associated with the Lusaka Agreement and will continue to actively participate in activities of LATF. He also thanked the Government of Canada for supporting the establishment of the Forensic laboratory at KWS which will be launched in May 2014. .”We are grateful from the support we have received from the Canadian government and we would like to warn any criminals that KWS will use the Forensic laboratory and the equipment received to ensure that wildlife crime evidence is water tight when presented in the courts of law” said Dr. Omondi.
Also in attendance at the ceremony included the First Secretary – Political of the Zambia High Commission to Kenya, Mr. Oliver Zimba representing Her Excellency the High Commissioner of Zambia to Kenya Mrs. Josephine Mumbi Phiri.
LATF takes this opportunity to recognize the sound relationship it enjoys with KWS over the years and deeply thanks the Government of the Republic of Kenya for their continued unreserved support to implementation of the Lusaka Agreement and especially for providing the organization with an enabling working environment, which is vital to its success in discharging its noble regional mandate.
LATF appreciates profoundly all the Parties to Lusaka Agreement, its partnering agencies and organizations, development partners and the donor community, the public and media fraternity for their continued support. The fight against illegal exploitation and smuggling of African wild fauna and flora resources is a noble cause and LATF will continue to mobilize resources for the purpose.
LATF receiving the donation from Canadian High Commission
KWS receiving the Equipment from LATF