WITA's International Wildlife Trafficking Specialists have many years fighting organized transnational wildlife crime.
Jim Karani is an attorney who advises on criminal, animal, and environmental law. He has a Master in Law and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at John Jay College, New York.
Before joining WITA, Jim headed the legal team at WildlifeDirect Kenya where he engaged in environmental public interest litigation and followed up on major elephant ivory trafficking court cases. He also managed the Eyes in the Courtroom program in partnership with Kenya’s Judiciary to monitor and analyze the effectiveness of law enforcement in handling wildlife crime in courts. Data from this program was used to guide reforms in wildlife law and build capacity of law enforcement to significantly strengthen Kenya’s response to wildlife crime.
Jim has been directly involved in the training of over 1,000 police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judicial officers on best practices of handling wildlife crime cases and development of legal texts, guides, toolkits and reference materials for law enforcement in various countries in Africa.
Ed Newcomer is a well-respected law enforcement professional and lawyer who served as a Special Agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for over 20 years before retiring in 2022. During his career as a Special Agent, Ed worked in Los Angeles and in a variety of international posts while conducting complex investigations involving wildlife trafficking crimes. Between 2015 and 2020, Ed was based at the United States Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa where he served as the Wildlife Law Enforcement Attaché for Southern Africa. As the senior diplomatic representative of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in nine African countries, he provided investigative and enforcement assistance to African law enforcement agencies and advice to senior US Government officials at US embassies throughout the world. He was responsible for the conception and implementation of the US Visa Ineligibility for Wildlife and Timber Traffickers, the first and only such visa restriction adopted anywhere in the world. Prior to his Africa assignment, Ed served as the Deputy Resident Agent in Charge for the Southern California RAC District in Los Angeles, California, where he supervised criminal investigations conducted by Service agents in the Los Angeles area. During his career, he conducted many high-profile international wildlife trafficking investigations involving every continent, including Antarctica. He is a licensed attorney and, for ten years prior to joining the Service, practiced law as an Assistant Attorney General and Hearing Officer in the states of Washington and Colorado. In addition to his work with WITA, Ed is a member of the faculty at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he teaches courses in criminal justice and administrative law.
Steve Roets is a well-respected and acknowledged retired South African Police wildlife-investigating specialist. He has 40 years of experience as an investigator in diverse fields. He headed the South African national endangered species unit at the division detective services. As part of being a lifelong learner and to ensure that he can make a contribution to training he completed courses such as a wildlife investigators course, Transnational crime course on wildlife, environmental management inspector Biodiversity Crime Scene Management as well as RhODIS DNA sampling courses. Due to being recognised as the subject matter specialist, he participated in the development of a training manual to facilitate the training of wildlife poaching investigations. He was course leader and personally trained police officials in poaching investigations. The training he offered and organised include training regarding complex crime scene investigations, related to mammals, flora and marine species as mentioned in the South African Threatened and Protected Species List. He is a co -author, field worker and assistant in the scientific publication: robust forensic matching of confiscated horns and tissues from poached African rhinoceros at crime scenes: Harper C, Current Biology ms832 2017-07-15
Under his command, guidance and support numerous successful investigations lead to the conviction and sentencing of poachers. His contributions were acknowledged through the various accolades that he received. He served as a member on the following boards: National Joint Operational Centre on Rhino Poaching, Wildlife Crime Priority Committee, Rhino Specialist Workgroup Advisory Committee for E-RhODIS. He was also nominated as the subject matter expert to assist the national prosecuting authority on wildlife trafficking court cases as well with the Vietnam delegation on wildlife trafficking.
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