A regional approach to address the bushmeat problem in Eastern Africa

Law Enforcement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weapons confiscated by Ministry officials in South Sudan. Photo courtesy I. Seme

Wildlife poaching in Eastern Africa is at highly unsustainable levels. Although drivers include subsistence hunting for protein and cash for basic needs, larger-scale hunting for regional- and national-level bushmeat markets comprises a large component of this problem (MENTOR 2009). Addressing the various levels of poaching requires not only social interventions (such as alternative proteins and income) but effective application of existing wildlife laws. Using data and recommendations from the MENTOR program, BEAN founding members have worked together to address the lapses in local law enforcement capacity.

Weak links in the law enforcement chain

In order to strengthen law enforcement capacity, we first needed to determine the weak points in the system. Weaknesses vary by country and site, yet there are some common themes across the region in the four phases of law enforcement:

  • Apprehending and evidence collection
  • Jailing
  • pre-trial
  • Trial & Sentencing

These results were invaluable in developing a regional assessment of how to address the law enforcement challenges. BEAN founders across the region used their experiences and discussions to collate the information above to create site-specific projects focused on: training conservationists working to apprehend poachers; improving the ability of professionals to improve relationships between agencies to prosecute poachers once caught; and working directly with the judiciary to improve sentencing.

To read more about the successes in scout training, interagency development, and BEAN’s next steps, click here .

Scout training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scout GPS training in Masai Mara.Photo courtesy   E. Kariuki

Through law enforcement workshops and discussions with conservancy leaders, an assessment of needs in the Masai Mara was conducted with institutional and financial support from BEAN, Wildize and the Museums of Kenya. Two main challenges were a lack of a formal database of poaching information, and the need for training of community rangers. To address tThrough law enforcement workshops and discussions with conservancy leaders, an assessment of needs in the Masai Mara was conducted with institutional and financial support from BEAN, Wildize and the Museums of Kenya. Two main challenges were a lack of a formal database of poaching information, and the need for training of community rangers. To address this a training manual and brochures for community scouts were developed and subsequently an informal training on monitoring, record-keeping, and reporting of bushmeat hunting sites and incidents for eight game

 scout groups (24 men in total) was held from January–July 2010. Working in wildlife dispersal areas with GPSs, the scouts are now tracking data including the number of snares, number of carcasses, estimated weight of dried meat, volume, confiscated poaching equipment, active snaring sites, active and inactive poacher camps, data entry and mapping of data. This data is now used to track poaching trends.

In Tanzania, the BEAN founding member within the Wildlife Division has been working to strengthen law enforcement that includes patrols intelligence, investigations, and prosecutions in Selous Game Reserve and across Tanzania across levels at the Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute as part of a broader strategy to address the complex issue of bushmeat . affiliates are working on awareness raising at multiple levels, ranger training, and facilitating the coordination and collaboration between the police, army, and wildlife forces in the arrest and jailing of poachers.

In Uganda and Kenya, law enforcement workshops were held in Murchison Falls National Park and the Masai Mara/Serengeti Ecosystem. The workshops were funded by United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mara Conservancy, Mara Siria Camp & Beyond, Care for the Wild – Kenya, and the Frankfurt Zoological Society. In Kenya 25 participants representing 11 institutions, including the police, magistrates, KWS, the Wildlife Division, Kenyan conservancies, and several NGOs, whereas the workshop in Uganda focused on UWA’s law enforcement issues involving representatives of the judiciary Directorate of public prosecution, police and wildlife rangers from UWA Both of these workshops build upon previous law enforcement workshops held in Serengeti and Murchison.

1. The Wildlife Act should be amended to depict actual financial and economic realities

2. Improve the law enforcement network

3. UWA will be the lead agency, but work hand in hand with police in consultation with other stakeholders

4. Attach police investigators in UWA to help in the execution of UWA investigatory roles

5. UWA legal department to develop specimen charges, practice manual for prosecutors and sentencing guidelines for magistrates

6. Financial value of wildlife to be developed and provided in the charge sheet during prosecution

7. Further awareness training needs to be conducted for stakeholders and law enforcement officers.

Local communities and regional economies pay when wildlife is not valued under law through appropriate fines and sentencing

The second Kenyan workshop was a step towards bridging gaps between the law enforcement officers in the protected areas and other law enforcement partners and will help in sharing of experiences in transboundary wildlife law enforcement, awareness raising and promotion of effective cooperation and collaboration among different law enforcement institutions in Mara/Serengeti ecosystem.

Next Steps

In 2012, BEAN will develop a prosecution and magistrates guide for East Africa, with case studies from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This training manual, cited as a significant need by wildlife authorities, will be handed over to wildlife agencies within these countries to serve as a platform to work on strengthening the judiciary with respect to wildlife crimes. In addition, training courses will be developed for wildlife institutes across the region to strengthen the ability for capacity building on a wide range of bushmeat issues, including law enforcement.

BEAN’s facilitation of these efforts in bringing stakeholders together reflects the success and need for continued communications between the various sectors of law enforcement. Synthesizing lessons learned across the region demonstrate the continued need for capacity building at multiple levels. As a network, BEAN hopes to use its role to continue these activities by encouraging partners and spreading the results of these meetings.

Click here for a link to reports and more information from BEAN and the bushmeat community