DFATD Supports Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking

Canadian High Commissioner David Angell (front row, centre) joins graduates from the first Canadian-funded advanced first aid training course at the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) training centre in Manyani, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya, on March 27, 2015.

The poaching and trafficking of flora and fauna is ranked as the fourth highest grossing illegal activity worldwide, worth some $70–$100 billion annually. The illegal trade in wildlife has increased exponentially over the past five to seven years, with severe implications for international security, stability, good governance and biodiversity. In particular, the upsurge of large-scale seizures of elephant and rhinoceros parts demonstrates that the involvement of organized criminal groups is on the rise as individual poachers and ad hoc gangs are increasingly replaced by criminal networks. Wildlife trafficking has become an international security issue that contributes to corruption and instability in rural and border regions of Kenya, especially along the borders with Somalia.

Canada is committed to combatting the illegal trade of wildlife, which poses an immense threat to Africa's stability, as well as to countering transnational organized crime and terrorist financing. Canada fully supports international efforts to eradicate the market for illegal wildlife products and works with destination countries in their efforts to address the issue.

In February 2014, at the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, Canada announced a contribution of C$2 million in emergency funding for the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) to combat international wildlife trafficking in Eastern Africa. The Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF), managed by DFATD’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START), is the vehicle for the Canadian contribution. This money funded training in DNA forensic analysis in Canada, and will support the procurement of essential equipment.

Given Kenya’s limited resources dedicated to policing and the monitoring of wildlife, this project’s goal is to build the capacity of the KWS to combat international wildlife trafficking at the source.

Several activities aim to improve national security and stability in rural and border areas by enhancing law enforcement efforts to disrupt the illicit poaching networks and counter the illegal trade of endangered wildlife species. Activities range from the provision of protective vests and helmets to advanced first aid, tactical training and equipment for a DNA forensic analysis laboratory. As well, a concerted effort is underway to educate the public on the threats to wildlife and security due to the illegal ivory trade.

Advanced First Aid Training in Kenya

Canadian High Commissioner David Angell observes the advanced first aid training for KWS rangers.

Outside of KWS headquarters in Nairobi, there's a stone monument covered in long brass plaques listing the names of more than 60 park rangers killed on the job. The KWS has experienced fatalities and injuries among its rangers as a result of poaching that could have been avoided had their staff had proper training. Casualties often occur in remote areas far removed from advanced medical facilities. This increases the importance of having all KWS rangers trained in advanced first aid techniques to deal with gunshot wounds and other traumas until the casualties can be safely evacuated. In response to this requirement, Canada, through START, is funding 10 advanced first aid training courses for 420 KWS rangers.

DNA forensic training in Canada

KWS staff participate in training at the DNA Forensic Centre, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario.

With all of the choices available to them around the globe, the team from the KWS Forensic Lab chose to receive their training at the DNA Forensic Profiling and Forensic Centre at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, on March 16 to 25, 2015. The facility includes the Wildlife DNA Forensic Laboratory, which is a Trent University service that provides DNA forensic evidence for provincial, federal, international, and non-governmental agencies. A memorandum of understanding has been proposed between the KWS and Trent University to continue the relationship established during the training. Although the animal species are different from those that the KWS deals with in Africa, the procedures for DNA forensic analysis are the same. The official opening of the KWS Forensic Laboratory took place on May 8, 2015.

KWS visits DFATD and Environment Canada

In conjunction with the DNA forensic training, the KWS team participated in meetings in Ottawa with DFATD and Environment Canada on March 26, 2015. These meetings were a unique opportunity to exchange views on enforcement approaches and challenges faced by the KWS.

Areas of mutual concern were identified, such as engaging with communities to enhance compliance efforts, reviewing existing legal challenges with low sentences for offenders, and further increasing our exchanges with consumer countries on tackling wildlife trafficking, primarily in Asia. The team requested Canadian help in packaging a coherent message to deliver in Asia through various methods, such as social media. As a follow-up to the meetings in Ottawa, members of the KWS will travel to China to reinforce the message on reducing demand for ivory, and will meet with officials from our mission in Beijing to seek Canadian advice on using social media effectively in China.

Members of the KWS visit DFATD headquarters: from left, Ettah Muango, Principal Legal Officer, KWS; Elsie Wambui, Laboratory Technologist, KWS; Dr. Domnic Mijele, KWS Senior Veterinary Officer; Dr. Francis Gakuya, Head of KWS Veterinary Services; Sophia Amboye, Second Counsellor, Kenya High Commission, Ottawa; Patrick Omondi, Deputy Director, Species Conservation and Management; Brad Bergstrand, GPSF Program Analyst, DFATD; Paul George, Deputy Director GPSF Africa Program, DFATD; Moses Otiende, Molecular Biologist, KWS.