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Combatting Illegal Wildlife Trafficking2020-05-03T18:12:22+00:00

THE PROBLEM

Illegal Wildlife Trafficking is a global problem and one that affects us all. Rwanda is committed to playing its part to ensure that we can combat it. Most of the species RWCA are working with are affected globally by illegal wildlife trafficking so it is important that we address this cross-cutting issue, raise awareness and increase collaboration between government institutions and other stakeholders.

MARSH RANGERS

RWCA has a team of 31 Marsh Rangers, including 12 women, at Rugezi Marsh, a protected marsh land in Rwanda home to wild Grey Crowned Cranes. The rangers regularly patrol the area, educating community members, reporting illegal activities and monitoring the population of Grey Crowned Cranes. Their primary role is education as many people are not aware that what they are doing is illegal (e.g. cutting grass or grazing cows in the marsh), yet there is also a strong role of law enforcement as illegal activities are reported to local leaders. They use a smartphone app to record sightings of cranes and regularly monitor breeding activities.

Our team of rangers contributes to a community model of protection and management of the marsh, which was devised in close collaboration with local authorities. Recruiting rangers from within local communities strengthens the model and contributes to long term attitude and behaviour change, in addition to improving livelihoods and ownership over the marsh and its wildlife.

SYMPOSIUM ON ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING

Through a collaboration with the Rwandan Government, Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda’s first symposium on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking (IWT) was organised with 89 influential professionals attending from different sectors including law enforcement personnel (Rwanda National Police, Border Control Officials, Wildlife Crime Department), prosecutors and the judiciary, journalists and national and international environmental organisations.

The primary objective of the symposium was to raise awareness of IWT nationally, regionally and globally but also identify the challenges faced by professionals in Rwanda to tackle IWT. Action points and ways forward were developed to effectively combat and prevent IWT both within Rwanda and across its borders.

Our pre and post workshop evaluation showed an increased understanding in the local laws and global regulations on IWT and an increased confidence in knowing what to do when faced with such cases.

Feedback received from an anonymous survey taken after the Symposium.

RWANDA NATIONAL POLICE AND CUSTOMS WORKSHOP

As a result of feedback from the Symposium, further workshops are planned for members of the Rwanda National Police and Customs Officials. This will provide more in-depth training on the special techniques for inspecting wildlife products, how to differentiate different items and collect good evidence.

INTER-AGENCY COLLABORATION COMMITTEE

We have successfully launched this Committee with the aim of bringing key people together, increasing collaboration between different institutions so that we can better tackle the issues of Illegal Wildlife Trafficking.