Wildlife and Environmental Crimes are a growing global menace. According to IFAW Wildlife crime is the fifth largest transnational criminal activity, putting at risk the survival of thousands of species of animals and accelerating the ongoing collapse of biodiversity.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates that Illicit wildlife trafficking is between $7.8 billion and $10 billion per year, and illegal timber trade is estimated as much as $7 billion per year.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature found that 958 species are at risk of extinction directly because of international trade.

Of the 1.2 million African elephants that lived in 1980, fewer than 420,000 remain, largely due to illegal poaching.

Pangolins are the most heavily trafficked wild mammal; one million have been poached from the wild in the past 15 years.

Dr. Patrick Omondi, Director and CEO of the Wildlife Research and Training Institute stresses the important role of wildlife research in conducting thorough investigations that help to track the illicit money trails.

The valuable data, information, and insights provided by wildlife research further contribute to effective conservation and law enforcement strategies.

Research provides insights into the patterns and methods used by criminals including poaching, illegal trafficking and biopiracy This information is crucial for law enforcement agencies to deploy effective strategies to address the changing trends of wildlife crime.

Wildlife research helps us to understand the behaviour, ecology, and habitat requirements of different species. This information helps to correctly track any species subject to criminal investigation.

It is critical to monitor the status and trends of diverse wildlife populations. This is critical in identifying potential threats to wildlife such as trophy poaching and illegal game/bush meat hunting for human consumption.

Research helps in the identification of critical habitats, migration routes, and breeding grounds that require special protection.

It is crucial to leverage the advancements in technology, such as the use of drones, satellite imagery, and DNA analysis. These technologies enhance surveillance capabilities and help track illegal activities.

According to Saitoti Ole Maika, an expert in environmental and economic crime investigations, there is a need to follow all the fish not just the big fish in fighting wildlife and environmental crimes. “When looking for a financial poacher, it’s not necessarily the man with the gun… look at the cold data.”

Wildlife crime often transcends borders, and international collaboration is crucial. Research facilitates the sharing of information and collaboration between countries to address transnational wildlife crime effectively.

“It should be standard practice to follow financial flows with respective agencies to trace proceeds of crime because there’s a gap allowing money laundering cases to collapse,” reveals Mr Edward Phiri, Director of the Lusaka Agreement Taskforce on regional initiatives to combat wildlife crimes.

Sally Amadi of Asset Recovery Agency, “When dealing with such crimes, establishing the source is key in determining whether there’s a case or not” adding that financial investigations for wildlife trafficking can help identify and prosecute key figures in illegal wildlife trade.

Media can collaborate with concerned agencies to share concluded cases providing credible information on outcomes of investigations and information sharing for public awareness and serve as whistleblowers to law enforcement for action.

Internews is a global development organization which operates the Earth Journalism Network to enable journalists from the continent to cover the environment more effectively runs the Media Coverage of Conservation and Wildlife project, which focuses on improving media coverage of conservation issues, including how to conduct financial investigations to help combat illegal wildlife trafficking and other environmental crimes.

Investigative reporting can help uncover the flow of money in wildlife crimes from poaching to global transactions, exposing involved actors at each stage. Hence the need to enhance investigative skills for journalists, wildlife crime officers, police and other customs authorities to combat the illegal trade of Wildlife products in the region.

Building the skills and knowledge of those on the frontline of conservation is essential for effective anti-poaching efforts. Above all, there is a need for Wildlife researchers to work closely with local communities to gather information on wildlife movements and potential threats. Building strong relationships with communities helps in creating a network of informed stakeholders who can contribute to wildlife protection.

Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through mm@unreportedke.co.ke or WhatsApp: +254713104367. Contact Unrepoted Ke instantly. 

One Response

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