TOURISM, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Catherine Namugala has called for more cooperation and improved strategies among law enforcement agencies if they are to fight the ever-increasing sophistication in wildlife crime.
Ms Namugala said this in a speech read for her by her Deputy Minister Mubita Mwangala at the official opening of the Zambia Inter Agency Wildlife Law Enforcement workshop in Lusaka yesterday.
“Wildlife crime is becoming a complex and dynamic phenomenon which possesses an enormous challenge to law enforcement agencies in terms of both skills and resource requirements hence the need for them to work together,” Ms Namugala said.
The minister said the vice could be fought more effectively if the agencies put their resources together saying doing so would also improve the capacity for collaboration among them.
Ms Namugala cited illegal trade in wild fauna and flora particularly ivory and rhino horn trade as one that had become too sophisticated to be detected by ordinary law enforcement operations.
She said there was evidence of the involvement of serious organised syndicates that far outweighed the individual capacities of law enforcement agencies.
“These trends if not carefully handled can result in disastrous consequences for the country’s valuable wildlife resources, which is an important part of the country’s tourism industry,” the minister said.
She expressed hope that the Zambia Wildlife Authority, (ZAWA) Zambia Police Service, office of the Director of Prosecutions, and the Department of Justice, would work more closely to identify and establish more appropriate platforms for effective inter agency cooperation.
Speaking earlier, acting ZAWA director general, Victor Siamudala said illegal wildlife trade was a threat to wildlife in the country and made the efforts of wildlife conservation unsuccessful.
Dr Siamudala said it had been challenging for the authority to effectively carry out its duties due to inadequate funds and human resource hence its failure to stop the illegal activities from happening in the game parks.
“I am, therefore, appealing to the Government to increase the amount of funding it gives to the authority so that it can improve its operations,” he said.
And Oasis Africa-Interpol director of projects, Peter Younger said it was important for law enforcement agencies to understand each other to know how they can help one another other.
The workshop, which was organised by ZAWA, drew participants from the Zambian law enforcement agencies and other wildlife and law enforcement agencies from Kenya, Tanzania and the United States.