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U.S. Partners with Kenya Wildlife Service to Protect Wildlife
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Counterterrorism and the National Institute of Justice have partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service to provide low cost aircraft to assist in the protection of Kenya wildlife. NIJ will take the lessons learned in Kenya to apply to state, local and tribal law enforcement in the United States. The project is funded through the U.S. Department of State counter-terrorism fund.
- Captain Ibrahim A. Ogle, OGW, Assistant Director Special Projects, Kenya Wildlife Service
- Maureen McGough, Policy Advisor, Office of the Director, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
- Matthew William Long, Regional Field Coordinator, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Counterterrorism
- Michael O'Shea, Senior Law Enforcement Program Manager, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
- Antony Kiroken, Airwing Department Head, Kenya Wildlife Service
Ibrahim: Kenya, as a country, are willing, as a matter of policy dedication from Kenyans, we are willing to sacrifice, we are willing to lose men and officers, in protection of our wildlife. This goes without saying.
McGough: We're here to do a needs assessment for the Kenya Wildlife Service Aviation Airwing, and then we're going to provide low cost aviation technology based on that needs assessment, and we're going to follow it up with an operational evaluation.
Long: This program came about because we had identified that the Kenya Wildlife Service had an airwing, which was capable and which had resources and expertise. We've identified from the State Department's perspective, another U.S. government agency that has real expertise to bring to the table.
McGough: The State Department was looking for a federal agency to partner with, who had the capacity and capability of providing low-cost aviation technology for law enforcement, and the National Institute of Justice has a very reputable aviation technology program, and once we realized that the types of lessons we were learning here could easily be generalized to the United States, and actually any law enforcement agency who has an aerial surveillance mission in an undeveloped vast jurisdiction, with rough field terrain and a tight budget, we were in.
Long: The State Department's perspective is that we support through other programs, anti-poaching efforts or anti-narcotics efforts. This particular program is coming out of our counter-terrorism assistance. The goal here is to trial some of these light aviation technologies that we think will be useful and economical for law enforcement use broadly, in East Africa.
McGough: We tend to focus on the U.S. for solutions to U.S. criminal justice problems and they're problems that are shared around the world... to the extent of which we can work with the State Department and leverage their funds to both fulfill their mission on counter-terrorism, to fulfill our mission, which is to learn lessons for state and local government, and then in the process also help support and build capacity for law enforcement agencies around the world. Why wouldn't we want to operate that way? It's a win-win-win.
O'Shea: What I hope is that the lessons that we learn with Kenya could cross-apply to state and locals here, I hope the technology and equipment that we provide and the research we provide for the Kenya Wildlife Service will help with their mission, which is mainly counter-poaching. It's also looking for insurgents that are coming into their country and trying to do harm. It's also looking for people that are crossing their boarder illegally.
Ibrahim: The mandate of this organization, it's the premiere law enforcement agency inside the country Kenya that is to protect wildlife 24-hours a day.
Kiroken: Kenya conservation is divided into seven regions, which are really vast and huge areas, and it was found to be difficult to do conservation without aerial surveillance.
Ibrahim: We have realized that you cannot cover the conservation area in Kenya, which is a total of 10 percent of the Republic of Kenya, so it is important for us to have aircraft that will not only protect and patrol these parks, but also provide the different small units that we have spread over all the regional parks in protection of the wildlife of Kenya.
McGough: The ultimate goal is making sure we can get the Kenya Wildlife Service Airwing the best aviation technology for them to fulfill their mission in the most efficient and capable way. I personally have been blown-away by the work that the Kenya Wildlife Service does, particularly in light of the challenges that they are facing. Their mission is incredibly important not just for environmental or conservationist reasons but they also play an incredibly important role in Kenya, in terms of anti-terrorism and national security.
Long: National security is very important to the Kenyan people and obviously it's also important to the American people, so helping Kenya secure their boarders and secure their country helps us as well. We want to help the Kenyans protect the wildlife, which is a treasure for all of us, and we want to help them have a thriving economy as a country, which is our friend and our ally and which we want to see succeed. So from all of these perspectives this is a project that both the American people and the Kenyan people can be proud of and happy with.
O'Shea: The real impact that we hope to make here is to support the Kenya Wildlife Service so that they can stop poaching. The work that we're doing with the State Department cross-applies directly because it gives us the opportunity to trial technologies in an area that's like parts of the United States, where it's very rural and agencies don't have a lot of money. So we can trial these technologies with the Kenyan authorities and determine if it's effective or not, and then bring those technologies and this experience and lessons learned to state and local law enforcement here.
Ibrahim: We need these partnerships in order to learn from one another, to exchange experience, because regardless of whether or not a national park is in Africa or in the United States, it is trying to preserve nature and nature, as you are aware, is very important for development of mankind.
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