Developing a Coordinated Response to Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa; Day 2 Summary

Developing a Coordinated Response to Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa; Day 2 Summary
July 4, 2018 9:35 am News

Following up on the progress made on the first day of the workshop on “Developing a Coordinated Response to Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa”, Day 2 started early with a breakout session where the countries worked together to refine draft priority needs assessments and associated recommendations. Discussions emphasized the way each country is invested in finding effective solutions to tackle wildlife crime in the sub region.

Dr. Johnson Boanuh, the Director of the ECOWAS Environment Directorate, presented the process for obtaining ECOWAS Commission endorsement of a regional strategy on combatting wildlife crime, thereby confirming high level regional support. Director Boanuh indicated that once the technical experts have completed their work on the development of the strategy and associated implementation mechanisms, their recommendations would follow the standard 6 step statutory process towards the full endorsement by the ECOWAS Commission of the need to address wildlife trafficking as a regional as well as national and local issue.

“We definitely need the Member States’ commitment otherwise whatever we adopt will not be effectively implemented. Your role on the ground is therefore key to the success of our coordinated response. That is why together with WA BiCC we are initiating capacity building activities on the ground for various stakeholders including the judiciary, customs and other enforcement agencies.” stated Dr. Boanuh.

The day progressed with Sone Nkoke of TRAFFIC presenting the Africa-TWIX, an online tool developed to facilitate the exchange of information and co-operation between enforcement officers in Central African countries. He shared some of the successes of this program and its advantages. This presentation was meant to give participants an idea of some of the options available to facilitate wildlife law enforcement and how it can be adapted for use in West Africa. He urged the West African representatives in the room to make a joint request to TRAFFIC for this tool to be implemented in the region.

Alice Stroud from Born Free USA presented the capacity building program that is being developed with WA BiCC targeting West African wildlife law enforcement agencies and other engaged stakeholders. Anticipated activities include trainings for customs, rangers working in transboundary protected areas, prosecutors and the judiciary as well as the development of key training resource materials. These activities will strengthen the capacity of countries in West Africa to develop strong national responses to wildlife crime by addressing the priority needs identified in the wildlife crime threat assessment, which is based on the outcomes, findings and recommendations of the initial seven national threats assessments.  Ms. Stroud also introduced the Wildscan smart phone application, a tool facilitating the identification of protected species, which WA BiCC is planning to adapt for West Africa based on the successful develop and application of Wildscan in Southeast Asia ( Wildscan will greatly strengthen species identification skills of enforcement officers, and allow for real-time reporting of wildlife trafficking in West Africa.

After the final presentation, there was another breakout group session where participants demonstrated enthusiastic ownership and engagement by working together to refine the draft recommendations to be communicated to high-level decision-makers.

“Any work that you are part of developing, you take ownership and you can execute better because you all edit and make recommendations together and agree on the implementation. I really appreciate this process WA BiCC has taken and the down up approach they are applying” – Mawdo Jallow, representative of The Gambia.

The day ended with report backs from the first breakout group with the modified documents reviewed and accepted by all the participants.

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