Chris Morris of Rothesay first came to Africa in 2007 on secondment to help with the war crimes investigation of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. His main objective was to help stop human rights violations in the African Country
However While performing his duties in Liberia, he was greatly shocked to learn about that poaching was actively affecting the African countries .
Moris then after doing as job as assigned returned to Africa after his retirement and is currently helping in covering retirement from the Saint John Police Force, Morris returned to Africa, and he now court cases of alleged poaching in Kenya.
Four instance, the former investigator turned Conservator was highly concerned with some are four “major” ivory trafficking prosecutions going on in the Mombasa area, some are still active in court.
” I have been to Kibera court where I have followed some poaching related cases but I have gone back to Mombasa to follow some serious cases of poaching at the Mombasa court, ” he told the Press.
According to our investigations Morris travels to court every time there’s a hearing or adjournment, reports on it and shares the information with an organization called SEEJ, for Saving Elephants through Education and Justice. He also keeps his diary safe so that he can’t miss on the cases.
” Actually It takes even years for a poaching case to get through the court system, and this is some of the challenges,” added Morris.
He said some culture in developed countries are the main causes of poaching in African countries
“Ivory is a status symbol in Chinese culture, he said.
“Kind of like BMWs and Mercedes here.” He added.
He said that Ivory is also considered a good luck charm by some.
According to Morris Elephants aren’t the only animals being illegally killed in this inhumane exercise adding that Rhino is the most haunted in current days
” Rhino is the most targeted animal, you know some Rhinoceros horn has uses in traditional medicine, and some people even take it as a hangover cure,” said Morris.
He also revealed that they are also used in traditional Chinese medicines, he said, for cancer and “a whole host of ailments.”
“We’ll get massive amounts of pangolins being poached, seizures of, you know, up to 12 tons.”
According to him some DNA evidence has linked to one or two criminal organizations coordinating the world supply of ivory.
He said that some key effective policies needs to be out in place to address the issues
” Some Policing are not always effective
But “law enforcement agencies in the different elephant range states will very rarely investigate beyond the actual seizure, they don’t dig too far into where it was coming from or going to. They just arrest the people in the car and charge them with possession of wildlife trophies.” He added
He urges the investigators both in Kenya and Africa to dig deeper so that to help address the problem but however said that some threats and intimidation have hampered some activity that tries to bring poachers to. Justice
According to our information Morris started working in 2015 with an organisation starting in 2015, Morris called wildlife Direct.
He said that the organisation had sent some lawyers to court but others are threatened and intimidated.
For instance, They’d send young lawyers to court to cover wildlife cases however, one of those lawyers was accosted and threatened.
” On a separate occasion, the same young lawyer was met on his doorstep by a relative of an accused in a major ivory case, who attempted to “persuade” him not to cover these cases anymore,” Morris said.
He said that Safety is a big concern in his job but added that he had a fair amount of experience in risky work.
Morris also served as a Canadian Armed Forces reservist with the 8th Hussars of Sussex and 722 Communications Squadron in Saint John in the 1970s and 1990s.
He was a police officer in Toronto and then in Saint John.
He also worked in Afghanistan in 2012-2013 as a mentor-adviser on an RCMP peacekeeping mission.
In spite of the safety concerns and the gruesome nature of the crimes he covers, Morris said he has really enjoyed his time in Africa — the weather, the simpler way of life, the warm, genuine people.
He is married to a Kenyan national whom they have stayed for some years now .
He also likes the unpredictability of life there.
” I think we could say that our life here is fairly well regulated with, you know, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, health agencies that kind of look after our well-being and provide a service that is not corrupted in any way. And the same can’t quite be said for many of the countries in Africa.” He said.
Jurisdictional issues are another holdup to legal prosecutions, he said.
The Kenya Wildlife Service investigates minor cases while the National Police Service and their criminal investigation branch handle major ones and they don’t always work well together.
And the poachers move around.
About 10 years ago, most of the ivory came from Tanzania, he said, but that has changed in the last couple of years.
A conservation biologist from the University of Washington named Samuel Wasser has analyzed DNA evidence from ivory seizures, said Morris, and tracked poachers as they moved north from Mozambique into Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Now they are going south again, he said.
“The poachers seem to be keying in on more southern African countries – Botswana, Zambia and Namibia … because the big tuskers are gone, sadly.”
And now there’s a new issue with mammoth ivory from Siberia, he said.
Because of the climate change and the permafrost thawing in Siberia, it’s bringing to the surface mammoth tusks from thousands of years ago.
Some people who have been in the poaching business for years are “banking on extinction,” said Morris.
“You hold on to ivory and the value is going to go up.”
Morris sees some sign of progress in the fight against poaching.
The amount of ivory being poached, in particular, seems to have gone down, he said
It’s still a “huge” problem, said Morris, but “there’s always hope.”
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