Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director and Chairman of National Wildlife Crime Coordination Taskforce (NWCCTF) Sam Mwandha launched NWCCTF’s Secure Information Sharing Platform with help from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Mr Mwandha thanked the Heads of Institutions for embracing the initiative of coming together as security and law enforcement institutions to fight wildlife crime. He revealed that the Taskforce was in the process of finalizing the capacity needs assessment survey with the view of appreciating the capacities of the member institutions to enable the design of targeted interventions to enhance coordination in combating wildlife crime. “We have realized that one of the key challenges of the NWCCTF has been timely sharing information on wildlife crime amongst the member institutions which we needed to urgently resolve”
The information-sharing platform is meant to enhance information sharing between collaborating institutions and agencies as well as between officers undertaking similar or related assignments. This is hoped to improve the speed at which information is moved from one entity to the other as well as enhance its security.
Maj. General Leopald Kyanda UPDF’s Chief of Staff commended the initiative and noted that it comes at the time it is most needed. “Wildlife crime is a big threat to many facets of security and therefore this implementation requires teamwork. This is important that we now have an inter-agency collaboration which is critical for addressing the threat posed by illegal traders into wildlife products,” he noted. He further noted that UPDF was committed to supporting UWA through training and skilling staff.
NWCCTF was formed in 2018 and is composed of various agencies that include Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda People’s Defense Force, Uganda Police Force, Uganda Revenue Authority, Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Civil Avian Authority, Financial Intelligence Authority, ODPP, Internal Social Organization, External Security Organization, National Forestry Authority & National Environmental Management Authority. This initiative is also consistent with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), where its members established the Horn of Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Network (HAWEN) in November 2017.
The mandate of the task force is to promote law enforcement-institutional collaboration and ensure effective cross border control of illegal wildlife trade through sharing information, intelligence, facilities and equipment; undertaking joint operations and prosecutions and raising awareness against wildlife crime.
Wildlife Trafficking is one of the leading transnational crimes in the world. It is categorized by the United Nations among serious crimes alongside drugs, human & arms trafficking. Tackling the crime requires combined capacities of law enforcement agencies to outsmart the organized and increasingly sophisticated criminal gangs operating various rackets cross the globe.