ARINSA TAKES THE FIGHT AGAINST POACHING TO THE FRONTLINE.
As the sun rises over the Kalahari Desert in Botswana tourists from all over the world enjoy viewing the magnificent wildlife that Southern Africa has to offer. However, for the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks a grim duty has to be performed…counting the dead animals. Each morning patrols check their regions to see how many animals have been killed on the previous night by poachers not for food or sustenance… but for profit.
Poaching in industrial proportions has blighted the African continent as criminal gangs kill rhinos, elephants, pangolins and other animals for no other reason than the huge profit that the products from these animals can make. It is estimated by UNODC that wildlife crime generates in excess of USD 10 Billion a year annually making it the fourth most lucrative criminal offence.
The Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA) recognising the heart of this problem is the profit has delivered specialised training for 40 rangers in Kasane and Maun in Botswana over the course four days. The rangers came from as far afield as the remote districts of Chobe National Park and the Central Kalahari National Park
The training did not focus on poaching offences and catching poachers, but following the money trail to lead to the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. The rangers have been identified as the key personnel as they are the first responders in wildlife crime. The evidence that is collected by them can help to identify the syndicates involved in wildlife crime and lead to their assets being confiscated.
The workshops introduced the rangers to Botswana’s Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act of 2014 which allows for confiscation with or without a criminal conviction.
The workshops had practical exercises that addressed the following issues:
- Searching for financial information
- Preserving financial evidence
- Tracing the proceeds of crime
- Intelligence gathering
- Presenting evidence in court
The workshops were the first of their kind and as pilot programmes will be developed to be delivered to the regions most critically affected by wildlife crime.
Hopefully, by following the money trail an applying the lessons learned this will leave the criminals with nowhere to hide.