I just returned from Botswana where I presented a 2 week Intelligence Analysis course to their Wildlife Services. Again I was struck by the professionalism, humbleness, goodwill and integrity of the Batswana. Many of readers know Botswana from the best seller books turned TV movie/series The No1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, or a safari destination with excellent variety of wildlife in the various game parks.
A little bit about the intelligence perspective on wildlife crime in Southern Africa: Like everywhere else in the world, wildlife crime is becoming more organised - syndicates comprising influential local politicians, needy locals and greedy foreigners involved in elephant/rhino poaching and predator smuggling. An incident of poaching usually has a transnational angle because the ivory is exported to China or the US. Poachers use transport routes of other contraband, thereby making the threat analysis even more complex. The influx of Chinese companies and workers into Africa add a new dynamic that needs to be taken note of.
We cannot afford to act reactively to these threats through investigations only. We need to apply our specialised foreknowledge of how, when, where and who are involved in these acts to try to prevent them through frustrating and countering efforts. Applying intelligence-led policing and general intelligence principles and processes to wildlife crime will enhance current enforcement efforts.
For this we need dedicated investigators, analysts and managers -those type that is evident in Botswana Wildlife Services. I salute these silent heroes who protect our fauna and flora heritage. If you want to read more about wildlife crime read the Environmental Investigation Agency's report. Recent developments in neighbouring Zimbabwe and from here in South Africa.