Paying our respects to a wildlife champion in Namibia

It is with great sadness that the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Principal magistrate Alexis Diergaardt at her untimely passing. Alexis was an incredible source of support to the work of UNODC in Namibia, helping both shape to the programme on wildlife crime, and to deliver it.

In November 2018, UNODC launched the ICCWC Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit and Indicator Framework assessments in Namibia. Alexis contributed to enhancing the understanding the national context through her inputs to the workshops and assessments.

In an example of South-South cooperation, Alexis joined UNODC at the 9th National Judicial Dialogue on Wildlife and Environment Enforcement and Conservation in Kenya to share her experience and the Namibian approach to the adjudication of wildlife crime cases and her experience in capacity-building for the Judiciary. She conveyed important messages, in her typical lively and engaging style, about how judges can handle wildlife crimes.

One of the most recent undertakings between UNODC, partnered with Space for Giants, and Namibian authorities was the development of a Rapid Reference Guide for Investigators and Prosecutors of Wildlife Crime in Namibia. Alexis was a great contributor in the development of this Guide, helping to drive the development process and its validation.

Alexis was a champion for combating wildlife crime in Namibia, an incredible force for good and a great defender of the rule of law. She set a legal precedent that served as an example across Namibia, passing deterrent sentences for wildlife traffickers that echoed throughout the criminal fraternity and undoubtedly contributed to Namibia's own success in protecting its biodiversity and resources in recent years. Her commitment and knowledge were something that the team at UNODC admired and relied upon. The UNODC team will miss her and pays tribute to a great ambassador for the Namibian judiciary.