Red Elephants at a watering hole in Tsavo East. The number of Elephants in the Tsavo has reduced significantly due to poaching. Photo: Alan Gichigi/UNDP Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya, 28th October 2019—Recognising the urgent need for action against illegal wildlife trade, 76 port and maritime supply chain representatives from 12 countries convened last week to agree on measures to address wildlife trafficking at Mombasa seaport.

Specific actions discussed include enhancement of inter-agency, inter-sectoral and international collaboration, cargo risk profiling, policy enforcement and prosecution capacity, as well as information and intelligence exchange to curtail wildlife crime.  

The measures were discussed at a Port Stakeholders’ Workshop which took place between 23rd–25th October, hosted by The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife of the Republic of Kenya, in partnership with TRAFFIC, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Kenya (WWF-Kenya). A wide range of stakeholders from 31 organisations participated in the workshop, including representatives from the Kenya Government, private sector entities, enforcement agencies, non-governmental organisations and intergovernmental organisations.  

Participants identified key gaps and opportunities in the port management systems to prevent, detect and intercept illegal wildlife products and determined next steps. Kenya Wildlife Service also held a sniffer dog demonstration showcasing how the canine unit can enhance detection by  effectively alerting authorities on hidden wildlife products in shipping containers.

In the official opening address, Hon. Najib Balala - Cabinet Secretary,  Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife of the Republic of Kenya, stressed that “Illegal wildlife trade must be made unprofitable and extremely uncomfortable. We must join hands to help each other so that we stay a step ahead of the criminals.”

The port of Mombasa is the largest seaport in Africa and is a key exit point for trafficking of African wildlife. One of the most publicised seizures1 at Mombasa port involved two containers declared as tea leaves that were intercepted with more than three tonnes of ivory, four rhino horns, and teeth from leopards and cheetahs. Alongside elephant, rhino, and big cat parts, other wildlife and wildlife products commonly smuggled through Kenya’s seaports include pangolins, timber and shark fins.

Drew McVey – East Africa Wildlife Crime Technical Advisor for WWF-Kenya, said: “To stop wildlife crime, we need to ensure that we close transit routes like Mombasa port. It is not enough to stop poaching in our country if we are on a transit route for the rest of Africa. To do this it takes co-operation between various government agencies, the private sector and other stakeholders.”

Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative for Kenya, further emphasised that: “Co-operation between countries, agencies and sectors is critical in combating wildlife trafficking—a crime that threatens achievement of the sustainable development goals. Progressing from sector dialogues through to implementation of tangible actions, such as enhanced surveillance and inter-agency coordination, is required to stem wildlife trafficking through ports, including Mombasa.”

Stakeholders agreed that it will take close information exchange and strategic collective action to end wildlife crime and the illicit trade of endangered species worldwide.

Julie Thomson – Director East Africa Office, TRAFFIC, highlighted that: “Wildlife trafficking is a transport-intensive crime that robs countries like Kenya of their natural resources and heritage. Through collaboration and collective goal-setting, stakeholders at the seaport of Mombasa have set forth a strategy for strengthening Kenya’s shipping supply networks against illegal wildlife trade. This marks a pivotal win for Africa’s wildlife.”

Sentiments were echoed by Javier Montano Duran - Regional Coordinator Container Control Programme (CCP) Eastern Africa, UNODC: “Illicit trafficking of fauna and flora is a serious and transnational organised crime. Inter-agency cooperation is key in fighting these crimes. I am pleased to see the positive exchanges between the port stakeholders participating in this workshop, sharing best practices and collectively identifying practical measures to better face this threat.”

Detailing the impact of illicit trade on business, the Vice National Chair of the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA), Levi Kinoti said: “Wildlife trafficking is a crime of unimaginable proportions, a thorny issue which continuously impacts the logistics sector negatively. The more we collaborate to fight against wildlife trafficking the more we seal the loopholes used by perpetrators of this heinous acts. KIFWA commits to join hands with all stakeholders to end this crime.”  

The workshop was generously supported by funds from the GEF and USAID.  

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Global Wildlife Program, UNDP-GEF Project “Reducing Maritime Trafficking of Wildlife between Africa and Asia”:

Financed by the GEF and implemented by UNDP between 2018 and 2021, this project under the GEF-financed, World Bank led Global Wildlife Program aims to curb maritime wildlife trafficking, targeting key routes and transit points between Africa and Asia. The GEF launched the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) in June 2015, bringing together funding from the GEF and a wide range of partners, including the Governments of participating countries, GEF Agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, the private sector and civil society. GWP national projects are currently under implementation in 29 partner countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, including Kenya.

The Wildlife Trafficking, Response, Assessment and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) Project, financed by USAID and implemented by TRAFFIC, in collaboration with IUCN, is designed to develop and deliver a suite of ground-breaking partnerships and pioneering approaches to tackle wildlife crime between Africa and Asia. Wildlife TRAPS uses targeted assessments, collaborative action planning, and innovative approaches to identify and advance interventions that can break trafficking chains and disrupt organised criminal networks.

UNODC / WCO Container Control Programme – This Programme, operational since 2006 and now operating in more than 50 countries worldwide, brings together government agencies responsible for container and cargo security, and develops risk profiling skills to enable the identification of high risk shipments for further scrutiny. The programme has been responsible for many hundreds of seizures of illicit commodities since its inception. The UNODC Global Programme for Combatting Wildlife and Forest Crime complements the CCP with a comprehensive approach addressing “from scene of crime to court”, supporting countries to build their capacities to successfully investigate and prosecute these crimes in their respective criminal justice systems.

For more information contact:

Hallie Sacks, TRAFFIC Communications Officer hallie.sacks@traffic.org   

Tamara Tschentscher, Knowledge Management Officer, UNDP, tamara.tschentscher@undp.org  

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