Standard (Kenya)

Kenya and Tanzanian wildlife conservation agencies are banking on closer collaboration to help curb illegal wildlife trade across the border.

Speaking at the Voyager Beach Resort, Mombasa County, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Coast Conservation Area Assistant Director, Dr Arthur Tuda said that poachers and traffickers in illegal wildlife products have been devising ways to conceal wildlife products and defeat detection as they go about their illegal activities.He said that some of the most traded wildlife products lately include Pangolin scales which find favourable markets in the Far East nations and which are mostly sought after for use in black magic, tortoises, elephant tusks, sandal wood, reptiles, snakes including other flora species.The three day Kenya- Tanzania Coastal cross border enforcement training programme has brought together expects drawn from the immigration department, Kenya Revenue Authority, Tanzania Revenue Authority, officials from Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife and Police to discuss how wildlife crime has evolved in the 21st century touching on wildlife crime trends.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is supporting the workshop.”As IFAW ,we facilitate this kind of workshop  where different government agencies meet together  as we seek to enhance skills  and knowledge on how to combat  illegal cross border trade on wildlife and wildlife products,” Mr Steve Njumbi, Head of Programmes  IFAW East Africa said.Njumbi added that the coming together of personnel from the different concerned agencies will leads to networking that makes it ideal to fight the menace at hand.”I am confident that at the end of workshop, participants shall be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills acquired on the subject matter so as to make it easier in their day to day work,” he said.He added that once applications knowledge acquired is utilised well, there shall be more seizures and or interceptions leading to severe punishments in courts of law for the offenders.Njumbi said that the main ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam and the adjoining one stop border points will be no go zone areas for illegal traders once proper patrols and detections are in place by concerned authorities.And speaking on the importance of the workshop, Mr Kiza Yusuph Baraga, a wildlife officer from Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources said that impacting of knowledge on how to deal with illegal wildlife traffickers will be key to winning the war against wildlife poachers.He said that the East African States of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi need to boost closer integration to help safeguard their natural resource assets.”Cross-border cooperation of law-enforcement agencies can bring culprits to justice and support sustainable, region-wide wildlife management not forgetting that involvement of local communities will be key to winning the war against the poachers,” Baraga said.He said that the need to collaborate in matters conservation stems from the fact that wildlife knows no boundaries and roam the plains freely.The larger East African region has unique biodiversity network of natural habitats and protected areas and is home to essential wildlife populations and varieties of trees and plant species.