Nairobi. International Police Organisation (Interpol) has dispatched a team to Nairobi to help fight illegal ivory trafficking and other environmental issues in the country.
The Environmental Security Unit (ESU) is based at the Interpol Regional Bureau for East Africa at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters. The Unit has been established at a time when the country is facing a great challenge in conserving the environment and wildlife as a result of poaching.
Interpol Nairobi Central Bureau chief Vitalis Okumu said the team will collaborate with national law enforcement agencies and Interpol National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in the region to increase information exchange, support intelligence analysis and assist national and regional investigations, with a particular focus on wildlife crime.
“The sub-directorate will deal with crimes on fishing, wildlife, forestry and environment” he said.
The unit, according to the brief from the headquarters, will act as an extension of Interpol’s ESU based at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.
The ESU head David Higgins said the team will work with countries and partner organisations to further the activities of its Project Wisdom, which combats elephant and rhinoceros poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. The project is funded by the Wildcat Foundation.
“This includes capacity building initiatives and creating a regional network for environmental protection,” he said.
The team aims at disrupting the transnational criminal groups involved not only in wildlife crime, but also other serious forms of crime.
Interpol recently announced the establishment of the environmental crime team during an event hosted by the Australian High Commission in Kenya.
Australia is a key partner with Interpol in activities to prevent and combat wildlife crime throughout Africa. (NMG