AGA-Africa and Wildlife Investigators Training Alliance (WITA) in collaboration with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) hosted a 5 day anti-wildlife trafficking training workshop, Kasungu, Malawi, 28th January-1st February 2019. This training workshop, was a first of many future collaborations between AGA-Africa and the Wildlife Investigators Training Alliance (WITA) on the investigation and prosecution of wild life trafficking cases.
The workshop consisted of both class room training held at Chikho Hotel and field based training held at Kasungu National Park.
In attendance were delegates from the police unit, customs unit, prosecutors, magistrates, key international, regional and national stakeholders, with an aim to capacity build and achieve significant and impactful exchanges that can strengthen both human and institutional capacity to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute Wildlife Trafficking cases.
The workshop was officially opened by the Director of Department of National Parks & Wildlife- Mr. Brighton Kumchedwa. In his opening remarks, he mentioned that he is certain that the workshop would help enhance skills among wildlife and police officers responsible for investigation, law enforcement and prosecution of wildlife traffickers in Malawi.
Speaking during the workshop, Deputy Minister- Hon. Welani Chilenga in his keynote address stated that the wildlife sub sector in Malawi contributes to about 2.7% of the overall growth of the sector and it is therefore among the priorities of Malawi’s government to put an end to wildlife crime.
“ The government has taken a low tolerance stand in the fight against wildlife trafficking as reflected in the recent amendments in the National Parks and Wildlife act which highlights wildlife crime as serious crime effectively prohibiting poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Chief Deputy, Saunders County Attorneys Office, Nebraska- Demetria W. Herman gave an in-depth presentation on Investigation and Prosecution of Wildlife Crimes. She noted that collaboration is key when organizing an investigation and emphasized that it is important for the Law Enforcement Officers and the Prosecutors to work hand in hand for success of the investigation procedures. She said that reliability and transparency must be proven in court.
Shawn Karns- Criminal Investigator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Special Investigations Unit presented a session on cell phone search and seizure. In his presentation, he noted that Cell phones have provided valuable evidence in a variety of investigations, including those involving wildlife crimes,
‘Cell phones offer a window into the personal and professional lives of those who use them and Law enforcement officers should therefore not overlook the evidentiary value of cell phones.”
Chris Clementson- Senior Detective- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Rick Peebles- Criminal Investigator with the Arizona Game & Fish Department Law Enforcement Division spoke on the Time of death. In their presentation, they mentioned Livor mortis, Rigor mortis, Insect colonization, Pupil size and shape, Tissue desiccation, Body temperature as some of the clues to the time and location of death of a carcass.
Stephanie Durno- Wildlife biologist, spoke on fire arm identification. In their presentation, they noted that it is imperative that all fire arm examiners measure the widths of the land and groove impressions in the same manner so that data in the GRC file can be used with minimal errors.
Miles Vested Zidana- Senior Assistant, Department of National Parks and Wildlife facilitated a session on Scale and Nature of Wildlife Crimes in Malawi. In his presentation he noted that in order to effectively combat wildlife criminal activities, we must ensure national and regional cooperation, timely information and intelligence sharing. He mentioned that continued sensitization/ Training of law enforcement agencies in wildlife crimes is crucial to effectively fight wildlife crimes.
Alex Chunga- DNPW Law Enforcement National Desk Officer gave an in depth presentation on the amended Natiional Parks and Wildlife Act. He stated that the aim of the amended act is to improve the strength of the penalties to perpetrators. He further explained that the degree of protection in law as laid out in the act, differs from different animals depending on how endangered they are.
George Makande- Corruption Prevention Officer, Anti-curruption Burea facilitated a thought provoking session on Corruption and illegal Wildlife trade. He noted that corruption is indeed an essential component in the facilitation and perpetration of illegal wildlife trade and is a threat that needs to be urgently dealt with.
“The last rhinos poached in Mozambique were pointed out to the poachers by a ranger who was given an $80 bribe.”