AFRICA-TWIX users hone their wildlife identification skills
Cameroon, 20th September 2020—users of the AFRICA-Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange (AFRICA-TWIX) platform received training last month on identification of species likely to be encountered in illegal wildlife trade and what concealment methods are used to hide them from enforcement officers.
The online webinar participants included officials in charge of wildlife, customs, judiciary, police, and gendarmerie from Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Chad, and Rwanda plus a representative of INTERPOL.
AFRICA-TWIX is an online tool developed to facilitate the exchange of information and co-operation between enforcement officers in Central African countries.
Last month’s webinar was the first in a series of AFRICA-TWIX capacity building exercises taking place over the next 15 months during which experts from member countries of AFRICA-TWIX, TRAFFIC, and COMIFAC will share their combined in-depth knowledge and expertise. The meetings will take virtually in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Denis Mahonghol, Director of TRAFFIC’s Central Africa office began with an overview of wildlife trafficking in the region, including smuggling routes and concealment methods used. Luc Evouna, TRAFFIC’s AFRICA-TWIX manager then spoke about identification of species and wildlife products to be found in the region, in particular pangolin scales, elephant ivory, parrots, and great apes.
One user from Cameroon commented: “sessions like this fill a persistent gap in the vocational training of some officials, even when they are rangers, they still need capacity in the identification of wild fauna species.”
Since its establishment in February 2016, the mailing list on AFRICA-TWIX has grown to more than 212 law enforcement officials, while at least 1,252 messages have been exchanged and a bilingual French-English website developed. From four pilot countries at the launch (Cameroon, Congo, DRC, Gabon), the platform now covers eight countries, with CAR, Chad, Rwanda, and Burundi all subsequently joining.
The TWIX initiative began 15 years ago in Europe with the creation of EU TWIX. Similar TWIX initiatives are currently effective in Southern Africa, with the launch of SADC-TWIX in May 2019, Eastern Africa (Eastern Africa-TWIX) launched in August 2020.
The establishment of AFRICA-TWIX has been supported by the German government’s Partnership against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade (in Africa and Asia), implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and by WWF France.
Germany’s Partnership against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade, DETER is supported by the German government’s Partnership against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade (in Africa and Asia), implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV.) www.giz.de