It is now a war on land, in the air and at sea against poachers after Kenya successfully pressured the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt guidelines aimed at cracking down on the illegal transport of poachers. wild species.
Over the past 40 years, Kenya has played an important role in the war on wildlife crime due to its strategic location as a gateway to East and Central Africa through the port of Mombasa.
It was, however, a costly war. A monument has been erected in Nairobi National Park bearing the names of brave Kenyans who paid the ultimate price in war to protect wildlife.
Several reports now indicate that the war is paying off. The country’s elephant population has doubled. Hundreds of poachers have also been arrested and brought to justice.
With 90% of global trade transported by sea, the IMO estimates that 72-90% of illicit wildlife volumes are trafficked via maritime transport.
It is in this context that Kenya has pushed IMO States to engage and develop guidelines to help combat this transnational organized crime.
On the coast, Hussein Abdi, a wildlife conservation campaigner in Kilifi, said there were still cases of wildlife trafficking via unmanned landing sites along the coastline.
“On Monday, men were charged in Mariakani after being found with elephant tusks heading for Mombasa. We think they wanted to get them out through unmanned ports,” Mr Abdi said.
“Those arrested are mid-level brokers and that’s why I’m glad Kenya has waged war overboard pushing for new, tougher regulations.” mentioned
Guidelines for the suppression and prevention of wildlife smuggling on vessels engaged in international maritime traffic were adopted by the IMO on May 14, 2022.
According to Principal Secretary of the State Department of Shipping and Shipping Nancy Karigithu, the guidelines were proposed by Kenya in 2019.
“We lobbied to bring together member states, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations and academia to draft and agree on the terms of the guidelines,” Dr Karigithu said.
The PS, which was recently appointed special envoy for maritime affairs and the blue economy, said the guidelines would lead to coordination in the fight against shipments of wildlife products.
She said the guidelines will enable government agencies and the private sector to increase due diligence in the face of this criminal activity.
The guidelines were submitted to IMO FAL 46 by Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Kenya, Tanzania, Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping, International Chamber of Shipping, Global Fund (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the International Seaport and Airport Police Organization
Formal efforts to adhere to the guidelines have been initiated in the IMO Facilitation (FAL) 44 led by Kenya with a working group comprised of the United Nations Development Programme, World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC.
TRAFFIC is a non-governmental organization working on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
“We are delighted that IMO Member States have committed to combat illegal networks that exploit maritime supply chains for wildlife trafficking,” said Philippa Dyson, Transport Coordinator at TRAFFIC.
IMO member states, ports and NGOs working on wildlife trade will also be required to publish a compendium of red flags.
Wildlife trafficking is a growing global concern, threatening not only biodiversity but also ecosystems vital to climate change mitigation, national and international economies and human health, the IMO said in a statement.
Organized crime groups are increasingly involved in this illegal activity which is still considered “low risk – high reward”. Smugglers reportedly exploit weaknesses in supply chains to illegally transport endangered species, including live animals, animal products, plants and timber.
The guidelines highlight the measures and procedures already available to the private sector and government agencies to combat wildlife trafficking within the industry.
The document provides information on the nature and context of maritime wildlife smuggling.
It also includes measures to prevent, detect and report wildlife trafficking in the maritime sector, emphasizing due diligence, shared responsibility and cooperation.
“These guidelines are a game-changer in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade,” said Dr Margaret Kinnaird, Global Wildlife Practice Leader at WWF.
She said governments and businesses can now implement stronger safeguards to protect their people, businesses and nature, essential to protect the integrity of maritime supply chains from operational, economic, health risks. , safety and zoonotic.