Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interpol Trains West African Wildlife Officers to Target Poachers

African elephants

It has been recently announced that Interpol has given out facts about a successful completion of a six-day training session for wildlife officers across Africa. This session involved twenty officers from ten West African countries being educated in how to "conduct strategic wildlife law enforcement inspections." The main motive for this training was to outfit the officers so they could return to their home countries "with the knowledge and skills required to plan for a coordinated transnational operation in the upcoming months." The session was held at Interpol's regional headquarters in the city of Abidjan in Ivory Coast. The training was financed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and was initiated in partnership with Environment Canada and the French Gendarmerie Nationale. The officers who participated in this course came from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Senegal. One officer was from the Lusaka Agreement Task Force. The course was conducted under Project WISDOM, an Interpol operation designed to protect elephants and rhinos from poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Interpol hopes that those officers who have finished the course will have been able to make very important alliances with each other to enable them to cooperate on a regional level on a continuous basis.
A group of white rhinos

I also very much hope that these officers, who had participated in this training session will work side by side in an effort to diminish any poaching activities. This is especially true for the rhino population in South Africa, which has recently been further reduced down to 588 animals. This current figure clearly indicates that the bloodbath is still expanding in the country and the surrounding region. In addition, elephants across Africa are continuously suffering in the hands of poachers and other operators of the illegal wildlife trade. I also feel that wildlife officers from other African countries should undergo a similar training, so that more alliances would be made in order to capture and prosecute poachers in the continent. Furthermore, forest officers should also form partnerships with other authorities like the military and local police forces when battling this ongoing crisis. The poaching of elephants, rhinos, and other African wildlife is a never-ending. As long as it continues, Africa's tourist industry would be greatly affected and this in turn would result in a chain reaction affecting the local economies that had benefited because of tourism. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to fight in order to preserve and protect Africa's biodiversity.

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