Law enforcers and prosecutors gather in Johannesburg for specialized CITES training

Participants to the training course

More than 50 officials from over 10 agencies came together in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 6 and 10 June, to attend a week-long course in wildlife law enforcement and the control of CITES-related trade.

South Africa is currently experiencing high levels of poaching of rhinoceroses and the training course gave participants the chance to discuss responses and learn more about illegal trade in rhinoceros horn, which is taking place in many parts of the world. Other species in South Africa, ranging from reptiles to plants, are also traded illegally. The country’s seaports and airports, together with its many land border crossing points, are exploited by criminals to smuggle wildlife from continental Africa. 

Specialists from the South Africa CITES Management Authority, Customs, Environmental Management Inspection, INTERPOL, a Police Narcotics Unit, Quarantine Services and the CITES Secretariat delivered lectures on wildlife law, border control, smuggling concealment detection, wildlife shipment inspections and the undertaking of controlled deliveries, among others. Participants engaged in a practical exercise on detecting fraudulent documents and had opportunities to visit mail, cargo and passenger control areas at Johannesburg International Airport. Several also visited the premises of a shipping company specializing in the export of hunting trophies.

CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon, said, “The multi-agency collaboration demonstrated by this course is an excellent example for others to follow. We welcome the involvement of a number of highly-experienced and dedicated individuals, including several senior prosecutors from southern Africa, reflecting their personal commitment to bringing to justice those who seek to harvest and trade protected species illegally.”

During the week, the CITES Secretariat was delighted to learn of a recent meeting between the South African Minister responsible for Police and his counterpart from Viet Nam. It understands that a letter of intent has been signed between the two countries to increase cooperation in combating transnational organized crime, including the trafficking of endangered species.

Participating agencies: CITES Management Authority, Customs Border Control Unit, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Department of Environmental Affairs, Directorate Priority Criminal Investigations, Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, INTERPOL National Central Bureau, National and Provincial Parks, National Prosecuting Authority, South Africa Police Service, and the South Africa Revenue Service, together with the CITES Secretariat through its Chief of Enforcement.