In efforts to combat wildlife crimes, a new weapon has been launched in the form of a specialised forensic academy.
Launched at Buffelsfontein Nature Reserve on Friday, the Wildlife Forensic Academy (WFA) is an academy that aims to provide forensic key information, knowledge and awareness and training to game rangers, wildlife forensics students, wildlife veterinary students, conservation students and ecology students as per TimesLive.
The director and co-founder of the academy, Dr Greg Simpson, said in most cases wildlife poaching is linked to organised crime. “Using forensic evidence to bolster a criminal case can help combat poaching, due to increased prosecution levels, subsequent financial chain disruptions and thus reduced repetitive crimes,” he said.
He added that crime scenes are often entered, trampled and contaminated, destroying key evidence which could help in building strong cases against suspects and the organised crime syndicates fuelling the illicit trade in poaching wildlife. He said they are hoping to change that by training and providing expert knowledge to help build databases and capability in the fight against wildlife crime and the illicit trade in wildlife as per IOL.
Simpson added that the killings and poaching of animals happens in many cases in remote areas or in hidden places. “Due to this ,there are never witness statements. We can only solve these cases with forensic evidence. That’s why we have to mobilise forensic knowledge and techniques,” he said.
Sharing these sentiments, WFA CEO and co-founder, Andro Vos, added that the academy is a critical tool to fight wildlife crime. “In South Africa and many parts of Africa, wildlife is one of our national treasures which generates enormous revenue, creates employment and helps uplift communities, and we have to do everything we can to protect and preserve our natural heritage. We believe the Wildlife Forensic Academy is a critical tool in this fight,” he said.