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Kenya to host Interpol environmental security office

05 October 2014, 10:35

Nairobi - Kenya will host the Environmental Security Office of the international police organization, known as Interpol, said a statement from the Australian High Commission in Kenya received on Saturday.

It said the office, which will be based in Interpol's Regional Bureau for East Africa in Nairobi, is aimed at enhancing both national and international efforts towards the protection of wildlife.

The office will work on a number of environmental issues with a particular focus on addressing the illegal trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn.

"Interpol's Environmental Security Office will assist in enhancing cooperation between government, the private sector and NGOs, and thus boost the capacity of law enforcement agencies to act against the illicit wildlife trade," the statement said.

It said the office will be launched on Monday at a ceremony presided over by Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Environment Judi Wakhungu in conjunction with the head of Interpol's Environmental Security Sub-Directorate, David Higgins, as well diplomats from Britain and Australia.

Also read: Wildlife firm secures more land in Kenya to protect elephants

In June, Higgins said Interpol will deploy more personnel at its regional bureau in Kenya by the end of October.

"We want to stimulate the follow of intelligence, so that we can defeat the criminal networks, who are now using modern technology to escape detection," Higgins said during the UN Environmental Assembly held in Nairobi on June 27.

He said that China, Brazil, Netherlands, France are among the countries that will provide personnel to boost responses to environmental crime.

Rampant poaching of rhinos and elephants forced Nairobi to revise its laws to give stiffer penalties for poachers and other wildlife offenders.

Kenya's tourism industry depends on its wildlife resources and beach destinations, and conservationists have blamed the continued poaching on the ready markets for the criminal networks that harvest the merchandise.

Elephant is recognized as a flagship species representing the magnificent diverse wildlife resources in the continent.

Wildlife crime and related illegal trade is now globally ranked as one of the most serious international crimes.

Recent reports from wildlife conservationists indicated that proceeds of wildlife crime are also used to finance other international crimes including proliferation of illegal firearms, human trafficking and terrorism cartels of which no country or agency can single-handedly manage.

Interpol is planning to expand its presence in Eastern Africa so as help national governments combat poaching and other forms of environmental crime.

 - Xinhua

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