Press releases

Thursday 18 Mar 1999

International task force to fight wildlife crime in Africa

Nairobi, 17 March 1999 - Six countries have today formally empowered an international Task Force to fight wildlife crime in Africa. They are: Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Referred to by many as "African Interpol" for wildlife and the first of its kind in the world, the Task Force will have its headquarters at the Kenya Wildlife Service in Nairobi.

The Task Force functions under the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, signed in Lusaka in 1994. The objective of the Agreement is to reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal trade in wildlife. So far the six countries have adopted the Agreement which entered into force in 1996. The establishment of the Task Force will strengthen the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Governing Council of the Lusaka Agreement, composed of all six Parties and presided over by Honourable Cecil Holmes, Zambian Deputy Minister of Tourism, has been meeting at Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters since 15 March with the objective of making the Task Force fully operational. Also present at the meeting are observers from CITES, Interpol and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Task Force was the idea of a group of wildlife law enforcement officers from eight African countries who met in Lusaka in 1992. They recognized the need for international cooperation in order to fight wildlife crime successfully. In doing this they were far ahead of the G-8 industrialized countries which only last year took similar steps to combat organized crime.

The Task Force is composed of seconded national law enforcement officers from each Party and designated National Bureaux. The National Bureaux will work together with Task Force Headquarters on joint cross-border operations against wildlife crime. The Director, Intelligence Officer and support staff are expected to be appointed in the next few weeks. Additional Field Officers will be deployed at the designated National Bureaux.

Tanzania became the first Party to make a contribution to the budget of the Task Force, and Zambia and Lesotho made a commitment to pay their full contribution immediately. The remaining contributions will be made later this year. To expedite matters, the Government of Kenya offered free office accommodation. The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation, through the Government of Zambia has offered to support a specialized three-week training course for the National Bureau Officers and Field Officers of the Task Force.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Donald Kaniaru,
Director,
UNEP, ELI/PAC,
P.O. Box 30552,
Nairobi,
Kenya,
Tel. 254-2-623507, Fax, 254-2-230198,
Email: donald.kaniaru@unep.org

or
Tore J. Brevik,
Director,
UNEP Communications and Public Affairs,
tel: 623292, fax: 254-2 623927.

UNEP News Release 1999/21

Thursday 18 Mar 1999
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