Chad joins AFRICA-TWIX to enhance fight against wildlife crime in Central Africa
N’Djamena, Chad, 25th January 2019—The International Conference of Ministers of Defence, Security and Protected Areas engaged in efforts to address poaching and other cross-border criminal activities concluded today with the final session, a Ministerial segment, chaired by the Head of State, H.E. M. Idriss Déby Itno.
The meeting was hosted by Chad in the capital city of N’Djamena and participants from seven countries of West, Central and Eastern Africa left agreeing on the need for stronger regional and transboundary collaboration to address wildlife crime and other associated illegal activities.
Conference participants included experts and decision-makers in the fields of conservation, security and pastoralism from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, South Sudan and Sudan.
A key initiative presented to participants was the Africa Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange “AFRICA-TWIX” system—a platform that enables government-nominated law enforcement officials to collaborate between agencies and across boundaries in their efforts to address wildlife crime. Chad expressed its intention to join AFRICA-TWIX at the meeting.
His Excellency, Minister of the Environment, Water and Fisheries, Mr Sidick Abdelkerim Haggar said: “Poaching and smuggling of wild animals and plants are heavily threatening Chad’s biodiversity. We are now very happy that Chad’s enforcement agencies will join AFRICA-TWIX—one of the world’s most effective networking systems to facilitate timely interventions against wildlife crime.”
“Chad joining AFRICA-TWIX is very timely, coming as it does against the backdrop of record levels of poaching in this part of Africa. The growing recognition of the impact of wildlife crime on biodiversity and people has stirred many high-level political commitments to address the crisis. It is practical tools like AFRICA-TWIX that are needed to curb the negative impact of transnational wildlife crime onto broader issues such as rule of law, national security, rural livelihoods and economic development,” said Mr Raymond Ndomba Ngoye, Executive Secretary of the Central Africa Forest Commission (COMIFAC), the host of AFRICA-TWIX in Central Africa.
“The aims of AFRICA-TWIX are consistent with COMIFAC’s Convergence Plan and its Central Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Action Plan, commonly known by its French acronym PAPECALF, that is aimed at strengthening wildlife law enforcement both at the national and transboundary level. So we invite the remaining Member States of COMIFAC to join AFRICA-TWIX soon, and invite partners to support its function.”
For more than a decade a TWIX system in Europe, which is managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of government officials, has been facilitating the monitoring of illegal wildlife trade there. AFRICA-TWIX was launched three years ago to provide similar support in Central Africa. Chad has now joined five other countries—Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gabon—whose combined TWIX network currently includes more than 110 enforcement officers. This adds to the TWIX system in Europe where over 1,000 European enforcement agencies representing 37 countries, including all 28 EU Member States, are connected. Similar TWIX initiatives are currently underway in Southern and Eastern Africa, and there is interest to establish a TWIX system for West African countries too.
Since AFRICA-TWIX was launched in February 2016, at least six international criminal investigations—including in Asia—have been initiated as a result of more than 900 enforcement-related messages being exchanged on AFRICA-TWIX. The mailing list is also used by officials to seek assistance on species identifications, enabling decisions to be taken quickly on whether shipments should be seized.
After 13 years of TWIX’ operation in Europe and three years in Central Africa, the benefits of rapid, secure information exchange between enforcement officials are clear: using TWIX as a model for replication in other regions has been a long-term goal, and today it is exciting to see Chad joining this ambition
Elie Hakizumwami, Director of TRAFFIC’s Central African Regional Programme Office.
During a mission to Chad by TRAFFIC in November 2018, several working sessions were held on the objective, benefits and the operation of AFRICA-TWIX with senior Ministerial officials including representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Fisheries, the Ministry of Defence and their administrations, and law enforcement personnel from customs, police, gendarmerie, INTERPOL the judiciary and the civil society organisations.
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.
1) The outcomes of the conference—the so-called N’Djamena Declaration (available in French and English)—makes reference to AFRICA‐TWIX developed by COMIFAC and TRAFFIC as an appropriate tool for information exchange between government-mandated law enforcement officials to address the cumulative negative impacts on wild fauna and flora in the region.
2) PAPECALF is the French acronym 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.