Ministry of Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Reverend Howard Sikwela says Illegal wildlife trade jeopardizes responsible wildlife management, encourage corruption and tax evasion thereby depriving off African economies’ enormous revenues.
Speaking when he officially opened the Multi-Agency Capacity Building Workshop on Investigation into Wildlife Crimes for Law Enforcement Officers at Livingstone’s Protea Hotel, Reverend Sikwela said organized cross-border wildlife crime poses a major challenge to the conservation and protection of wild fauna and flora which we must all strive to surmount.
He said this has contributed to loss of biodiversity and undermines the rule of law.
“Zambia realizes that one key challenge to effective law enforcement in Africa is the inadequacy of the requisite knowledge and skills among law enforcement personnel. , I believe there is urgent need to develop the law enforcement capacity of our agencies in addressing these threats in Africa and therefore this initiative merits our commendation and support”, he said.
Reverend Sikwela noted that given the prevailing levels of wildlife crime in the continent, with large volumes of ivory originating in Africa having been seized in Asia in the recent past, there is need to improve the capacity and enhance collaboration amongst law enforcement agencies through increased surveillance and information sharing.
And Acting Director Lusaka Agreement Task Force Edward Phiri, said he strongly believes that the solution to this lies in sound law enforcement practices, which are critical to proactive, well-planned and more purposeful operations.
He said Intelligence and investigations are the most important components in addressing organized wildlife crime and it is critical that officers and their agencies have them among their priorities.
Mr. Phiri said illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, particularly trade in illegally acquired elephant ivory and rhino horns, is becoming more sophisticated as it has been exemplified in the recent past including instances where criminal syndicates have been using complex smuggling methods to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies.
The workshop was funded and supported by European Union Commission through ENACT, the Rural Economy and Agriculture Division of the African Union Commission, and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force to provide technical and logistical support.