Archive for the ‘Weekly Blog Feature’ Category

Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from abstract academic thinking; it comes from your knees and thighs” – film-maker and documentarian Werner Herzog.

On Tuesday, September 6, three powerful new films chronicling EIA’s recent undercover investigations into timber smuggling, the ivory trade and whaling will make their world debut in the USA on Nat Geo Wild.

Paul Redman and Clare Perry filming in a Japanese fish market (c) EIA

Broadcast under the collective banner of Crimes Against Nature, Blood Ivory depicts the brutal horror of elephant poaching in Kenya and black market trade in the marketplaces of Hong Kong and China; Making a Killing exposes Iceland’s hunting of endangered fin whales to package and sell for consumption in Japan; and Chainsaw Massacre uncovers the Vietnamese army’s involvement in the widespread smuggling of timber from neighbouring Laos.

Each film follows seasoned EIA investigators in the field as they methodically piece together the clues of wildlife and forest crime and follow evidence trails leading to corrupt officialdom, organised criminal syndicates and grasping businessmen. Along the way, viewers will share the setbacks and successes in films rich with imagery both startling and haunting.

What they won’t see, and possibly won’t suspect, is the long year of preparations and often physically and emotionally demanding work behind the scenes to get three one-hour films in the can.

The project effectively began in 2009, following EIA’s tiger team in China and Nepal for a pilot film eventually broadcast early last year on Nat Geo Wild as Eco Crime Investigators – Inside the Tiger Trade.

The broadcast, first in the USA and subsequently worldwide (and it’s still in heavy rotation), was such a success that further programmes were commissioned.

On location in Kenya with Mary Rice and Dave Currey (c) EIA

Initial meetings with the London-based production company hired by Nat Geo to make the films focused on the likely scope of the three investigations, the probable shooting times and budget requirements for each, and a loose schedule around which investigators would have to fit all their usual campaign work and commitments.

It was in October 2010, when filming was concluded in Iceland and underway in Vietnam, that I was brought onboard as Project Co-ordinator; you could draw up a job description for the role which might run to several sides of A4, or you could just as accurately say my primary function was to help ease the process along as required.

Both EIA and the production company shared the same goal – to make the best programmes possible; naturally, both came at it with different considerations to the fore. The nature of conducting investigations in the field is that you never know what’s going to turn up and where it might lead; the nature of film-making is that you have to satisfy those commissioning the venture that they’re going to end up with a solid narrative arc and a substantial conclusion, preferably before shooting begins.

From the word ‘go’, EIA was adamant that its investigators would not serve as props, nor would they be mouthpieces for scripted lines which might in any way reflect poorly or inaccurately on the organisation, its methodology or its invaluable work. At the same time, we accepted that the film-makers needed to distil often-complex issues in a way that was accurate and wouldn’t leave viewers scratching their collective brows and reaching for the remote control. Looking at the finished products (and I believe I must have done so a score of times for each!), I think it’s fair to say this was achieved remarkably well.

In the field was where problems could most easily arise as directors fretted that they wouldn’t get the key shots they needed within the timeframe allowed, or when they were debriefing an investigator following an emotionally exhausting undercover filming session and needed the same kind of projected energy on take seven as was given the first time around. But our investigators are nothing if not troopers – and on many occasions during this project they were fixers and guides too – and the passion they have for their various campaigns all but radiates from the screen.

Julian Newman interviewed during filming in Laos (c) EIA

When location filming concluded by late March, it remained to fine-tune the narratives, film interviews with the key campaigners and nail down the voice-over and visual inserts such as animated maps..

With security the key consideration for EIA, this was also the time for me to go through each film with a fine toothcomb and ensure that the identity of our undercover Chinese investigator was protected at all times; you’d be amazed at how often somebody’s features can be fleetingly reflected in background mirrors and table tops.

All that remains now is for you to watch the films, and help EIA by spreading the word for others to do the same.

* After the US premiere on Tuesday, the three programmes are due to be broadcast on Nat Geo Wild in other territories, including the UK, later this year – watch our website and blog for details as we learn them.

Paul Newman, Press OfficerPaul Newman

Press Officer


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Today is my last day at EIA. And this is my last blog post.

It only set in late last night; I’ve been so busy wrapping up the loose ends that I have not given myself time to think these past 3 weeks. It has come around so fast. This blog post is somewhat sentimental. If it’s not you’re thing skip here.

EIA is a special place. From the outside people often mistake us for a much larger organisation, or perhaps a governmental body and quite frequently The Environment Agency. I have taken many calls from grieving residents who have rats at the bottom of their garden!

EIA doesn’t have a large marketing budget, that’s why when I talk to new people about EIA they probably haven’t heard of us. In some respects, it’s a shame. We do such amazing things that I really believe more people should know about our work and what we’ve exposed over the last 27 years. But then, having that element of mystery, I think, quite suits us. And when you do speak to someone who has heard of us, their enthusiasm is insatiable. Our success is due to our loyal supporters, many of whom have been with us since our early days. It was a conscious choice to focus our efforts, and thus the majority of our income, on our frontline work. And, for the most part, rightly so.

From the inside, EIA skips between a hive of busy activity to a quieter hum drum as campaigners disappear for weeks at a time attending meetings or going undercover. EIA has some of the most fantastic people working together on a vast variety of issues. They achieve incredible feats but it’s also good to know that they like a pint or a glass of Pinot as much as the next person. And there’s the people you don’t see in front of the camera; the finance girls endlessly tire away doing accounting things beyond my comprehension; the films you watch take a long time to put together, it takes a team of people to bring it to life and in-house staff often compose the emotive music to accompany them; then there’s the fundraising team working to ensure we raise enough money for EIA to thrive and the communications team to do a fantastic job, all of us with limited resources.

So how can we successfully spread the word of EIA under the circumstances?

Using Web 2.0, that’s how. If you’re reading this then we’re obviously doing something right. The great thing is there isn’t a huge cost involved but it does take time. And over the last 18 months or so, we’ve been doing just that. Taking the time, when we can, and slowly building up momentum. Our blog gives our supporters greater insight into what goes on at EIA and allows for people to post comments and ask questions. We’re trying to start conversations and proactively engaging all you folk. And similarly, on Facebook and Twitter we’ve been actively sharing news and information on topics relevant to our areas of work. It wasn’t that long ago that we were only on 300 fans (as they used to be called); it requires a shift in mentality. And that’s why, two years on EIA campaigners are tweeting live from CITES meeting in Geneva. Just yesterday we hit 4000 Facebook “likes”.

I am really excited to say that our new website is nearly finished. It’s been a long slog but it will be going live soon, incorporating more comprehensively our groundbreaking reports, powerful images and emotive films. More than that, our blog will be a part of the main site, so whatever area of our work you’re interested you’ll be able to read a range of information on Illegal Wildlife Trade for example, an informal blog, the latest press release or a detailed report. Well, we aim to please.

So I’m leaving EIA knowing that their communications is heading in right direction, coming on leaps and bounds on social media and on the cusp of a fantastic website. I don’t think that’s too bad.

Sophia Cheng

Fundraising & Communications Officer

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Michigan State University visit

Michigan State University visit

The following post is written by seven Michigan State University students who recently visited EIA while participating in a study abroad program in the UK.

Environmental Science, Policy, and Criminology in Scotland and England

In a university that prides itself on having among the largest offering of study abroad courses in the U.S., our study abroad program is very unique in that it is composed of students from three different Colleges within MSU: Fisheries and Wildlife, Criminal Justice, and James Madison College (essentially Public Affairs). Our course is structured around site visits and discussions with conservation leaders in the UK. Our topics range from study of the physical and biological dimensions of the many different ecosystems, the criminality side with the prevention and persecution of offenders featuring heavily, the policy being enacted by the EU, UK and Scottish governments and how that is actually being carried out in the field and finally, the conservation and sustainability of ecosystems. We spent three days in London, meeting with the EIA and Chris Smith from the Environment Agency. From there we traveled up the coast to spend a week in Hull. While in Hull we spent the majority of the time focusing on the conservation, sustainability and restoration elements. We met with many different scientists and fishermen on these controversial topics. We continued this trend up on the shores of Loch Lomond as we spent a ten days at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment. We’ll be ending the trip in Edinburgh as we switch over to the policy side and begin to take a closer look at how the Parliaments and EU work on these issues.

Greg Brown, International Relations, 2014

Why Visit EIA?

Because our program has a multi-tiered approach in its study of Environmental Policy, Science, and Criminology, our visit with EIA fit in very nicely. Because of their efforts to expose the environmental dangers resulting from environmental crimes, EIA needs to work with policymakers and criminal authorities. Since we first visited EIA early on in our trip, we have heard many of the foundations to the organization echoed across the United Kingdom. The need for cooperating between governing bodies is particularly important. This is because some organizations, like EIA, can do things that other organizations, like the EA, are unable to do. When these groups work together it makes attempts to expose and punish environmental crimes much easier. Still, EIA also played a strong role in relaying the frustrations that are associated with thwarting environmental crimes. Even when environmental criminals are exposed, their punishments are often weak given the nature of their crimes. We have explored this idea throughout our program; many times, judgments against environmental crimes are difficult to rule on, and when they are, the consequences are minimal.

During our visit, we discussed the following EIA campaigns: Illegal Logging, Tiger Trade, Intelligence Led Enforcement (I2 software), Ivory Trade, and E-waste.

Jonathan Dworin, Environmental Policy, 2012

Illegal Logging

When we visited EIA, they discussed with us their current campaign to help expose and stop illegal logging in Indonesia. Illegal logging causes deforestation, which has major negative impacts on numerous species of wildlife as well as the surrounding people. The trade in illegal timber is large scale and controlled by powerful people, who often have the power to influence officials to avoid enforcement of logging regulations. Indonesia in particular experiences extensive illegal logging, and so as part of their campaign against illegal logging EIA investigated illegal logging in Indonesia. In order to expose how illegal timber is harvested and sold in Indonesia, EIA undertook an investigation in which they documented with film every step of the process in harvesting and trading illegal logs in one national park in Indonesia. With this evidence, they can incite action against illegal logging and help direct enforcement efforts. This campaign has helped expose corruption, has helped support communities in Indonesia to take action to protect their forests, and has helped provide evidence to pressure governments to respond to the illegal timber trade.

Whitney Belaski, Fisheries and Wildlife, 2012

Tiger Trade

“If India didn’t want wild tigers, there wouldn’t be any wild tigers left.” This is the quote that really resonated inside of me as we learned about the various environmental issues EIA tackles on a daily basis. It shows that there are groups of people, like EIA, all over the world willing to fight for the environment. It seems as though the ongoing battle to protect the tiger is always a case of the few versus the many. The many are the people fueled by greed and corruption. They profit from the illegal trade of tiger fur and tiger body parts. Tiger populations across Asia are decimated by this drive for profit. EIA represents the few and are determined to stand up for the wild tiger. Although they do not necessarily have the resources to match those who make millions from dead tigers, EIA’s ability to inform is the ultimate weapon. As the EIA continues to raise awareness about the illegal tiger trade market and dwindling populations, the pressure placed on governments and people mounts. Awareness can turn the few into the many and give the wild tiger a fighting chance.

Michael Petlak, Political Theory, 2012

Intelligence Led Enforcement (I2 software)

Please click on image to see a larger version

When we visited EIA, we learned that by being intelligence led EIA is able to step back and see the “big” picture. Being intelligence led assists in producing their order of priorities, ensures their resources are used efficiently and allows them to understand the size and scale of the problem from start to finish. This intelligence is not information, but rather information that has been checked and compared with other information and can then be used in decision making. The I2 software helps the agency with this goal of being intelligence led, by using source data in a web-based collaborative framework to help analyze the data, and by using server side analytics to unleash the potential of the data. After seeing how the I2 software works first hand, I think it makes so much sense to use this intelligence software, in order to help stop environmental crime.

Erin Smith, Criminal Justice and Psychology, 2014

Ivory Trade

While we are at the height of the global ivory trade, it is important to expose the growing industry and reduce future poaching through increased enforcement. The vulnerability of African elephant populations combined with the lack of enforcement across Central and Western Africa foster the illegal ivory trade. EIA’s work to uncover raw data and images of elephant killings provide first-hand accounts of the atrocity to the outside world; bringing the crime to everyone’s attention. The indiscriminate act of poaching targets both genders and elephants of all ages. Working hand-in-hand with NGOs and lobbying for the protection of elephants, they pressure governments to better regulate and persecute ivory traffickers. EIA also works to expose those not only poaching the elephants, but also those selling the ivory. From this approach, EIA can try to reduce the demand by targeting the suppliers and breaking off their business. Using their extensive intelligence software, EIA can target the central figure within the operation which is crucial to dissolving the operation. All in all, EIA is an important tool in education, the collection of first-hand data and the exposure of central figures within the operation. They have been successful in many operations and there is no reason why EIA cannot successfully tackle the challenge of the illegal ivory trade.

Amy Lueken, International Relations, 2011


In learning about the EIA electronic waste (e-waste) campaign, we learned how sophisticated their program has quickly become. They explained in detail how old television sets are being exported to countries in Africa where they are broken down, exposing the people of Africa to hazardous chemicals both directly and indirectly. We learned that electronic waste exportation from the UK is such a problem because people in Africa are willing to pay for used electronics whether they are working or not which has created a market for such products. It was wonderful to see that EIA now has some funding to place GPS trackers in old televisions to follow their path. This has given EIA definitive information that companies who are responsible for the safe disposal of electronic equipment are actually exporting the electronic waste to Africa which contradicts company reports. This is very detrimental to not only the people of Africa but to the environment as well. Therefore, even though electronic waste may not be directly affecting the environment of the UK at the moment, it is wonderful to see that non-governmental organizations, such as EIA, are actively involved in trying to reduce the UK’s contribution to this growing, global problem.

The staff members at EIA are extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated to their work and I would recommend visiting their facility to anyone who is interested in learning about, protecting, and conserving the environment.

Katie Kelel, Social Relations and Policy, 2014

Environmental Science, Policy, and Criminology in Scotland and England Program Instructors: William Taylor, Ed McGarrell, Norm Graham, Abigail Lynch (program assistant)

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Ah, summertime …

The season to wonder where the spring went so quickly, to flirt with heat stroke on long meandering rambles into the countryside and to duck with stoic tenacity between downpours on traditional day trips to the British seaside.

Weird & Wonderful Wood

Weird & Wonderful Wood

For me, it’s also an opportunity to hook up with old friends at wood festivals around the country, and there spread word of the Environmental Investigation Agency to the curious.

Before I was ‘EIA Press Officer’, I was more widely known as ‘The Soap Lady’s Husband’; my wife Stephanie and I (although, in the interests of honesty, I should admit it’s mostly Steph) have for more than a decade run a small handmade soap business from our home.

We mostly sell through local health food stores and at farmers markets, but in recent years we’ve become regulars on the summer wood festival circuit, a gentle round of traditional wood crafts, smoky campfires and starry nights under canvas.

Steph’s a native New Yorker with enough pizzazz to singlehandedly power the national grid at Christmas, so in the early days there wasn’t much for me to do beyond skulking at the back of the stall with my head in a book, selling the occasional bar of soap while she got on with the more useful business of attracting punters and giving lively talks on the history of soap-making.

Steph at her palm-oil free soap stall

Steph at her palm-oil free soap stall

We’ve always made a point of not using palm oil in our soaps because of the devastating impact palm oil plantations are having on South-East Asia’s forests, but it wasn’t until I fell into a long conversation with a customer at Weird and Wonderful Wood in Suffolk a few years ago that a light bulb flickered on as to how we could perhaps do some good for EIA and spread a little awareness of the issue at the same time as enjoying a delightful weekend in the country.

The customer in question was completely unaware that palm oil was even a cause for concern and, after chatting with her, she was very keen to know more and asked if we had any suggestions as to what she could best do to help. We pointed her in the direction of EIA.

Smelling sweet and raising awareness about EIA & palm oil

Smelling sweet and raising awareness about EIA & palm oil

Since then, our soap stall has added a second string in the form of a display table for EIA reports such as Up For Grabs, growing steadily each year to incorporate copies of Investigator magazine and membership forms. And I get something more constructive to do than working my way through a stack of old paperbacks.

EIA is a small, hardworking NGO and what’s most heartening is the generally enthusiastic response to word of its work, not just in relation to its hands-on campaigning to prevent deforestation around the world but also for its practical efforts to effect meaningful change and proper enforcement in the other issues on which it focuses.

Many people attending wood festivals have a general awareness of conservation issues but often express frustration at trying to turn that concern into something more concrete, wanting to put their money where it will actually do some good.

With that in mind, it’s always a pleasure and never a chore to advocate EIA and its work at the cutting-edge, even more so when converts return year after year to ask for verbal updates on campaigns.

Paul Newman, Press Officer

Paul Newman

EIA Press Officer

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It would be nice to be able to report that negotiations are moving forward apace but, unfortunately, they’re not.

This morning, we sat through another lengthy discussion about the proposals put forward by the North America countries and Micronesia to phase out HFCs. While supportive delegations such as the EU agreed with the US that a phase-out is a moral imperative and argued that it would help drive technical innovation, China and India spent the entire session playing semantic ping-pong.

This is what a 'side event' can look like (c) EIA

Arguments of varying degrees of sophistication were trotted out to demonstrate that the Montreal Protocol is not the forum to deal with an HFC phase-out, because there is no legal footing for it to do so (a claim heavily contested by many Parties here); because it would undermine the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol (!), or because not enough scientific research has been carried out into alternatives to HFCs (it’s worth noting that both China and India blocked subsequent attempts to remedy this).

What it all boils down to is protection of vested interests – both China and India are defending the commercial interests of their domestic F-gas industries (which, lest it be forgotten, have already earned hundreds of millions of euros for HFC-23 offsets under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism – and, to a certain extent, political grandstanding and positioning for the global climate talks. It’s very frustrating to sit here and listen to the debate go around and around in circles when an HFC phase-out is clearly the most immediate and cost-effective prospect for combating climate change in the short-term.

Mealtimes here are very perfunctory – in fact, we haven’t sat down to a hot meal since Sunday – all the more so as food and drink are strictly forbidden in the meeting rooms (a rule enforced by zealous security guards on every corner). So, after a five-minute refuelling stop, we headed to a ‘side event’ (UN jargon for a short workshop) on the European Union’s F-gas Regulation. This was organised by the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE), the rather misleading name of the European Heating Cooling and Refrigeration Industry’s trade association, based in Brussels.

At the event, EPEE representatives and the refrigerant manufacturer Daikin sang the praises of the F-Gas Regulation, which essentially relies on weak controls to prevent leakage during installation, operation and disposal of equipment. Quite apart from the consideration that taking a containment and recovery approach to HFCs (rather than mandating a phase out) is simply storing up trouble for the future, it’s pretty obvious that the F-Gas Regulation in its current form is simply unworkable. The fact is that, by the industry’s own admission, the Regulation is not being taken seriously.

We expect the F-gas industry to fight tooth and nail to prevent any ambitious changes to the Regulation, which is currently under discussion. As far as we’re concerned, supporting a global phase-down of HFCs in the Montreal Protocol – which the EU is doing very forcefully here – goes hand-in-hand with a convincing domestic policy on HFCs – which the EU does not yet have.

Natasha Hurley

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One of the most difficult things to deal with when working in EIA’s forest campaign is jet lag.

By the time you’ve ensured you have all your equipment, contacted your sources, confirmed meetings and booked travel plans, actually sitting on the plane with no communications for 11 hours is a bit of a break. But knowing that sleep deprivation is at the other end is something I try not to think about. There are three of us here in Thailand from EIA’s Forest Team to launch our new report “Crossroads: The Illicit Timber Trade Between Laos and Vietnam” and to follow up on our campaign in Indonesia with our partner Telepak.

The forests of Laos are in crisis. Credit EIA.

The forests of Laos are in crisis. Credit EIA.

Our press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, where the findings of our undercover investigations traced the illegal trade of logs from Laos to Vietnam. A lot of work was done beforehand, arranging the undercover investigations and writing the new report, making the new film, working with our superb communications team, contacting the media and arranging for facilities, so when I was hit by the dreaded jet lag at 4am and lay there willing myself to go back to sleep, my mind was actually on this issue. The forests of Laos are in crisis. The people of Laos are ending up with a raw deal, and those with vested interests continue to make deals for huge profits. It’s wrong that a country blessed with the mighty Mekong River, beautiful forests filled with a wide biodiversity and a gentle people whose culture and livelihoods depended on their forests are under such a threat. I say depended, because if the timber industry of Vietnam continues to use the raw materials from Laos the way it is doing now, those who rely on the forest are doomed.

 Forest landscape, Attapeu, Laos. Credit EIA.

Forest landscape, Attapeu, Laos. Credit EIA.

I also find it greedy and short-sighted that a country such as Laos, which is blessed with its bountiful natural resources, is selling the energy from the Mekong River to neighbouring Thailand and its forests to the highest bidder, with nothing going back to its people.

As my jet lag continued and I saw the first light of a new day, I was also reminded of the many individuals in Laos and Vietnam who are quite simply champions. The courageous, the patriots, the ones with massive hearts and compassion for their country. Those are the people that the forest team in EIA is so lucky to work with.

So when I sat in front of the journalists and diplomats at the FCCT this morning, I was reminded that our work supports those who live in countries where having a press conference and naming names is far too dangerous for them, and coping with jet lag is nothing compared to what they are facing. But because of them, I know our campaigns will go from strength to strength.

Faith Doherty

Faith Doherty

Head of Forest Campaign

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A Burning Without the Warmth of Jubilation

Ivory Burning credit Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Almost 10 years ago, EIA investigated the case of more than six tonnes of illegal ivory –­ that’s at least 600 dead elephants ­– seized en route to Japan. It became known as the Singapore Seizure and our subsequent investigations showed it had been only one of 19 which had left the shores of Africa, all heading to Asia and all using the same modus operandi.

To this day, no-one apart from a minor fixer in Singapore has ever been prosecuted, let alone convicted.

Despite a wealth of evidence ­ and the excellent work of a handful of enforcement officers from Zambia, Malawi and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF),­ this case has, along with so many other similar cases across Africa and Asia, foundered. The criminal networks continue to operate with impunity and the illegal ivory trade is thriving and growing.

On Wednesday, July 20, some of the ivory from the 2002 seizure, in the custody of LATF and held in Kenya at the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) training college in Tsavo, was burned in a public statement decrying the growing trade and  increasing numbers of elephants being poached to fuel the burgeoning demand for ivory in Asia, predominantly China. Before lighting the 335 tusks, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki told the crowd: “We wish to firmly demonstrate to the world our determination to eliminate all forms of illegal trade in ivory. Poachers and illegal traders in ivory must know that their days are numbered.”

From my point of view,­ and as one of EIA’s team working on this from the start,­ it was all a rather poignant and disappointing end to the futile demise of so many elephants. 

Poached Elephant © EIA

Disposing of the ivory in this way certainly sends out a clear message about the commitment to tackle illegal trade and ensure that this consignment of ivory never enters any market place, legal or otherwise; it also serves to underline Kenya’s stance that it will not tolerate illegal trade and poaching (although it did not go unnoticed that none of Kenya’s own stockpile made it onto the pyre).

But it is also a sad reminder that no-one was ever punished,­ bearing in mind that it was only one of many shipments that successfully penetrated the permeable borders and under-resourced enforcement agencies tasked with preventing illegal contraband. It can’t have been easy either for the individuals who risked their lives to pursue the case and bring the syndicate to light, some of whom were present for the burning. Their work was eclipsed by the headlines that followed the immediate seizure, and the apathy and filibustering which then dominated the subsequent investigations.

Four years after the seizure, I spoke with the then Director General of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) about the case and it’s status. His view was that it was ‘spilt milk’; it would seem that he was not alone. Now the Singapore Seizure has been consigned to history,­ a cold case,­ and remains the single biggest seizure of  ivory since the ban was implemented in 1989 (although, let’s face it, there have been a couple that have since come pretty close to equalling that dubious accolade). For many, this will be a line drawn, the end of an embarrassing chapter. For the individuals trying to move the case forward – the officers from ZAWA, the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Malawi, and the investigators from LATF – it must be a bitter-sweet outcome. Their efforts, which held so much promise and were a great example of agencies working together across borders to tackle illegal trade in ivory, ultimately came smack up against a brick wall. They did not fail; the system did. Corruption? Lack of resources? Political will? Inadequate penalties? I suspect we will never truly know.

On the positive side, the ZAWA officer who instigated the original investigation that led to the seizure and discovery of the  syndicate was recently appointed Director General of ZAWA. And Kenya has made an unequivocal statement about its stance, supported by the signatory countries to LATF.

At the end of the day, however, it all felt rather hollow. Lots of grand words and ambitious statements, and no celebration whatsoever of the gesture and signal being sent out to the criminal world. I wasn’t present at the last burning of ivory in Kenya, back in 1989, but I understand that the setting of flames was met with cheers, clapping and great jubilation; this burning was instead met with silence and a lot of jostling for position to get the iconic photograph or moving image.

The enforcement message somehow lost in the spin …

Mary Rice

Executive Director

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