Meetings Between U.S. and Africa Officials will Boost Tactics to Stop Poaching
WASHINGTON, D.C. - African elephants and rhinos are facing extinction in the next 15 years if current rates of poaching and illegal trafficking continue. In the United States, fish and wildlife, such as paddlefish, sea turtles and bear for their gall bladders are also sought out by poachers and traffickers. Worldwide, the estimated number of rangers and conservation officers killed while protecting these iconic animals and other wildlife has soared past 1,000 in the last decade.
Conservation law enforcement officials and other wildlife trafficking experts from across the United States and Africa are working together to turn these trends around. Forty-two African conservation officials from 16 countries will spend the next two weeks in the Washington, DC area and Denver to train with their American counterparts and strengthen international law enforcement to fight illegal wildlife trafficking.
“We’re trying to increase collaboration among international wildlife law enforcement agencies at a time when poaching and international trafficking of wildlife is becoming increasingly sophisticated and widespread,” said Randy Stark, executive director of the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs (NACLEC). “It takes a network to beat a network.”
Adds Bruce Kindle, director of training for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, “The best thing organized crime has going for it is when law enforcement doesn’t play well with each other, and we intend to change that part of the equation.”
The training is jointly coordinated by NACLEC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Known as the International Conservation Chief’s Academy (ICCA), this joint training event is being held for the second time; the first was in 2016.
Wildlife trafficking is estimated at $10 billion globally. The impacts are threatening many species of wildlife around the world. For example, elephant populations have dropped from nearly 1.5 million to less than 400,000 in Africa, and only 20,000 white rhinos and 5,000 black rhinos survive in the wild in Africa.
U.S. conservation law enforcement executives from 31 different states have already completed several weeks of training in their academy and will join the African conservation officials for their first week of training at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.
Training topics include adaptive leadership, peer group problem solving sessions, anti-corruption practices, relationship building, wildlife trafficking trends, forensics, evidence and inventory management, working across cultural differences, and more. The curriculum also includes visiting the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and attending an event at National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, DC. The National Geographic event will include an award ceremony and discussion on the application of adaptive leadership concepts to address the challenges associated with combating illegal wildlife trafficking domestically and internationally.
At the end of the first week the American wardens will graduate from their training and the African participants will travel to the USFWS National Wildlife Property Repository in Denver. There they will receive hands on training in forensics, evidence handling and digital evidence. They will also visit Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, CO.
African countries with representatives attending the academy are: Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
Follow the events of the International Conservation Chiefs Academy on the National Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NCLELA/.
For more information see the ICCA webpage: https://www.fws.gov/le//icca/index.html.
To learn more about the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs, go to: https://www.naclec.org.
Learn more about US State Department efforts against wildlife trafficking at https://www.state.gov/j/inl/.
Learn more about the National Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy at https://www.naclec.org/leadershipacademy.
Joe Knight, Public Information Officer: (715) 559-1473
Lisa Guamnitz, Public Information Officer: 608-235-2201
Tim Eisele, Public Information Officer: 608-233-2904