Enhancing container controls at ports to fight wildlife crimes

According to the United Nations, one elephant is killed for his ivory every 15 minutes - amounting to 35,000 elephants every year. The UN estimates that as many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012 and that Africa has already lost between 50% and 90% of its elephant population. Also, 94% of rhino poaching takes place in Southern Africa and its horn is valued at an estimated 63,000 US$, which is two times the price of gold and is valued more than cocaine on the black market.

With the huge challenge faced by Customs and other law enforcement agencies in West Africa, wildlife crime is on the rise. Regional traffickers and organized crime groups are exploiting a weak, ineffective and inconsistent port controls throughout the region.

In this context, UNODC organized a workshop in Accra, Ghana, from 25 to 27 August 2015 and in Dakar, Senegal, from 31 August to 2 September 2015. The objective of this workshop was to provide training for national law enforcement agencies to better fight wildlife crime through the control of maritime containers. This workshop was led by trainers and experts from UNODC, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the CITES Management Authority.

UNODC, WCO, CITES experts and the Dakar workshop participants

The Container Control Programme has been developed jointly by UNODC and WCO to assist governments to create sustainable enforcement structures in selected sea and dry ports to minimize the risk of shipping containers being exploited for illicit drug trafficking, and other transnational organized crime. The implementation of this programme gives an opportunity for UNODC to work with governments in establishing a unit dedicated to targeting and inspecting high risk containers.

UNODC in partnership with WCO delivers basic training programmes and provides technical and office equipment. For example, the equipement connects the units to the WCO's ContainerCOMM - a restricted branch of the Customs Enforcement Network (CEN) dedicated to sharing information worldwide on the use of containers for illicit trafficking. UNODC also supports governments in establishing a suitable institutional framework for the unit, through inter-agency agreements.

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon argued: "illegal wildlife trade undermines rule of law, degrades ecosystems and severely hampers the efforts of rural communities striving to sustainably manage their natural resources". Indeed, wildlife trade is a transnational organized crime that raises profits of about 19 billion US$ annually, occupying the 5th largest illegal trade in the world. In addition, it is often linked to other crimes such as arms trafficking, drug trafficking, corruption, money-laundering and terrorism - that can deprive developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues.

For more information:

UNODC Container Control Programme

United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife Crime

United Nations World Wildlife Day Campaign