A training workshop to increase the expertise of law enforcement officers to combat wildlife trafficking began today in Entebbe, Uganda.
The training workshop hosted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in partnership with International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) aims to equip officers stationed at the Entebbe International Airport from: the wildlife authority, customs, immigration, Entebbe Handling Services (ENHAS), police and civil aviation with the necessary skills to detect and deter wildlife trafficking.
The Airport has been identified as a transit hub for living, raw and processed wildlife which is largely illegally poached at alarming rates from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and countries in West Africa.
Core subjects to be covered during the training will include identification and detection of wildlife species and trophies, identification of wildlife smuggling and concealment techniques, exhibit handling and management, and, the wildlife trade status of species under CITES.
Modes of instruction at the training will include interactive theory, group discussions and practical exercises all aimed at encouraging collaboration and information sharing amongst agencies and participants present.
“IFAW recognizes that the key to suppressing the threat to wildlife trafficking is to facilitate and support initiatives that seek to engage the entire enforcement chain from detection, interdiction, apprehension, to prosecution and incarceration hence our continued investment in capacity building for law enforcers,” stated James Isiche, Regional Director IFAW East Africa.
Executive Director UWA Sam Mwandha acknowledges that wildlife trafficking poses a great threat to Uganda’s natural resources. “As an Institution mandated to protect and preserve Uganda’s wildlife, we are determined to make illegal wildlife trade a risky venture. Through collaborating with different partners, UWA has tightened enforcement of its protected areas. The new wildlife law has created harsher punishment for illegal traders in wildlife products making it very costly for anyone found guilty of engaging in the vice,” he noted.
Wildlife trafficking represents a serious threat to the survival and conservation of many wildlife species globally.
Elephant ivory, rhino horn, reptile skins and leopard skins are amongst the most illegally traded wildlife products in the region. Live animals including big cats such as cheetah and lion cubs as well as primates, reptile and live birds are also trafficked.
As a low-risk high-return venture, wildlife trafficking is valued at billions of US dollars annually. It ranks in the topmost profitable transnational organized crimes, behind drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting.
Since 2007, IFAW has held more than 140 training workshops on the prevention of wildlife trafficking where more than 6,000 officers from 40 countries have been trained. Training has been held in collaboration with national institutions and partner organizations in the respective countries.