Supporting intelligence-led wildlife crime investigations in South Africa and Mozambique with USAID

In June and July 2022, the Wildlife Justice Commission conducted four tailored training courses for law enforcement agencies in Mozambique and South Africa as part of the project ‘Supporting intelligence-led wildlife crime investigations in South Africa and Mozambique’, which is made possible by USAID ‘From the American People’.

Based on needs assessments, training was customised to the needs of the targeted agencies in South Africa and Mozambique. In South Africa, training focused on open-source intelligence and advanced intelligence analysis to develop more advanced intelligence capacity for analysts from Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) and South African National Parks (SANParks). In Mozambique, training focused on wildlife investigation for investigators from Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) and the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), and on basic intelligence analysis for analysts from the same organisations. A total of 29 participants were trained.

Advanced investigation techniques allow authorities to dig deeper to identify and pursue the high-level criminal networks who are organising and facilitating wildlife crimes. Intelligence analysis is key to enable the identification of the structure of the criminal networks, key traffickers, emerging trends, trafficking routes, market values of commodities, and more, which is crucial to inform and guide investigations. Intelligence analysis is also an incredibly important force multiplier where resources are low and the problem is vast, as it allows for investigations to remain focused on the greatest criminal threat. Therefore, intelligence analysis must form part of any overarching strategy to tackle wildlife crime. Moreover, for intelligence to be meaningful and useful in investigating the cross-border nature of wildlife crime, intelligence must be shared between law enforcement agencies at a landscape level.

Feedback from participants on all four courses was positive, indicating that the training was very useful for their daily work. One participant said, “Although I had a basic idea about most of the subjects, it really assisted me to gain knowledge which I can practically implement”.

The project also seeks to promote intelligence sharing and joint, cooperative investigations between the South Africa and Mozambique in order to disrupt wildlife crime more effectively. To this end, the Wildlife Justice Commission specifically invited two DFFE analysts from South Africa to help deliver the basic intelligence analysis course. The Mozambique courses are being followed by ongoing mentoring support (in-country and remote) to assist SERNIC and ANAC officers to continue to hone their new skills so they can be integrated and applied in their work.