AFRICA-TWIX membership and uptake grows – positive steps for enforcement in COMIFAC Countries
27th–29th June 2019, Kigali, Rwanda—A "regional workshop for evaluation of the implementation of the AFRICA-TWIX* platform in the COMIFAC region" was held last month and chaired by the Central Africa Forest Commission (COMIFAC) with technical support from TRAFFIC.
The Africa Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange (AFRICA-TWIX) platform is an online tool developed to facilitate information exchange and international collaboration between regional and national enforcement agencies working to prevent, detect, and prosecute wildlife crime in Central Africa.
The workshop was attended by 36 participants, including officials responsible for wildlife, customs, justice, and police, gendarmerie from Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, and Rwanda, alongside representatives from the World Customs Organization (WCO), COMIFAC, INTERPOL, TRAFFIC, WWF, and IUCN. Delegates gathered to evaluate sub-regional successes and challenges from the sharing of information in the fight against wildlife trafficking, as an avenue to reflect on the AFRICA-TWIX roadmap.
“COMIFAC member countries have all developed and adopted national legislation for the sustainable management of wildlife. However, it is noted that the application of these laws was not always effective. It is therefore with a view to strengthening the application of these laws that the countries of the COMIFAC area adopted an Action Plan in June 2012 for strengthening the implementation of national legislation on wildlife (PAPECALF)1 for the period 2012-2017” stated Mr. Raymond Ndomba Ngoye, Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, and Chair for the workshop. He added that: “As part of the implementation of this plan, TRAFFIC and COMIFAC launched the AFRICA-TWIX platform in February 2016, to strengthen communication and exchange of information between Central African countries to reduce the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora”.
In hosting this workshop, the Director of Tourism and Wildlife for the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Mrs Ariella Kageruka, representative of the RDB’s Chief Executive Officer said: “Rwanda is very interested in joining AFRICA-TWIX and will help in curbing the illegal wildlife trade by not giving traffickers the opportunity to view our country as a transit hub for their crimes”.
Since its establishment, AFRICA-TWIX has made significant achievements, including the facilitation of collaborative efforts between enforcement bodies on six regional and international investigations on elephant ivory and pangolin scales.
According to information presented by TRAFFIC during the workshop, over 125 law enforcement officials from different agencies are exchanging information via a dedicated mailing list, with over 1000 emails exchanged to date. An accompanying website hosts useful resources and guidance materials developed in both French and English, including a seizures database containing over 250 separate entries. From the four pilot countries at the launch, AFRICA-TWIX has now expanded to include to six countries; Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, CAR, DRC and Chad. Chad’s involvement in the platform was reviewed and accepted by the Advisory Body at this workshop. Rwanda, the hosting country, expressed strong interest to join the platform, too.
TRAFFIC congratulates Chad for its adherence to AFRICA-TWIX and considers Rwanda’s interest as important steps towards expansion of collaboration between Central African countries and the implementation of the N’Djamena Declaration on combating wildlife crime”
Elie Hakizumwami, TRAFFIC's Director – Central Africa.
TRAFFIC welcomes the continued commitments made by COMIFAC, member countries, and agencies to further address illegal wildlife trade through a reinforced collaboration and regular exchange of useable and actionable information between the different users.
AFRICA-TWIX is modelled on the successful 14-year implementation of EU-TWIX which connects close to 1,200 officials in 39 countries across Europe. Similar TWIX initiatives are currently effective in Southern Africa with the launch of SADC-TWIX in May 2019, and soon to be launched in Eastern Africa.
The establishment and implementation of AFRICA-TWIX has been mainly 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 WWF France. Past partners include the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the CITES Management Authority of the Kingdom of Belgium.
TRAFFIC is grateful to the financial supported provided for this workshop by the Partnership against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade (in Africa and Asia), implemented by GIZ on behalf of BMZ and BMU; and WWF France.
For more information on the Central Africa Forest Commission (COMIFAC), please visit https://www.comifac.org/
1 PAPECALF is a French acronym standing for : « Plan d’action sous-régional des pays de l’espace COMIFAC pour le renforcement de l’application des législations nationales sur la faune sauvage ».
Germany’s Partnership against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade (Ivory and Rhino-Horn) 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 the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), through TRAFFIC’s project DETER.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.