Center for Animal Law Studies Sponsors 3rd Animal Law Training in Zimbabwe Focused on Prosecutors
The third training organized by the Zimbabwean nonprofit, Speak Out for Animals (SOFA), was held in Harare, Zimbabwe earlier this month. Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was the principal sponsor of the trainings and Natasha Dolezal, director of the International Animal Law Program, represented CALS and spoke about animal law in the United States. Additionally, Natasha collaborated with Ever Vimbai Chinoda (Lewis & Clark Law School ’17 LLM and SOFA Founder) to secure the participation of Ed Newcomer, Senior Special Agent for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Special Agent Newcomer serves as the Wildlife Law Enforcement Attaché and senior USFWS representative in Southern Africa. In this capacity, he provides investigative and enforcement assistance to Southern African nations in regards to poaching and wildlife trafficking. His participation in the training provided attendees with both hands on expertise and critical U.S. support for ongoing and future wildlife cases.
While CALS has sponsored all three animal law trainings in Zimbabwe, this year’s training was the first to focus exclusively on prosecutors and the important role they play combating crimes against animals. As former U.S. prosecutors, both Natasha and Ed were able to share their perspectives and understanding of the challenges facing successful prosecutions of animal crimes. Many of the prosecutors in the training spoke about the lack of awareness regarding the laws pertaining to crimes against animals, as well as the limited support from law enforcement investigating these cases.
In an effort to learn more about these conveyed challenges, Natasha visited the Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC) in southern Zimbabwe for a few days post-training. During her days at the Conservancy, she was hosted by the director of Anti-Poaching Tracking Specialists (ATS), Bryce Clemence, whose organization is tasked with defending the black and white rhino populations in the SVC. Recently, the Conservancy has suffered poaching losses at the hands of few known individuals. These individuals were prosecuted in the local courts, found guilty, and then, unfortunately, released on appeal by the local High Court. As a result of seeing this breakdown in the system, ATS decided to sponsor two prosecutors from their jurisdiction to attend this year’s SOFA training. Additionally, ATS continues to work closely with SOFA court monitors who assist them by following their poaching cases through the legal process. ATS has welcomed these attorneys, prosecutors, and law students to visit SVC and see firsthand what the rangers are facing in the fight to protect wildlife. For many who visit SVC, this is the first time they have seen rhinos in the wild.
Overall, the importance of animal law is gaining traction in Zimbabwe through the dedication and hard work of advocates of SOFA, prosecutors, and rangers. Through this training, Natasha had the invaluable opportunity to meet and speak to prosecutors about the opportunity to study animal law in depth through Lewis & Clark’s world-renowned Animal Law LLM Program. In that vein, CALS looks forward to welcoming even more passionate and dedicated Zimbabwean attorneys as we continue to educate the next generation of animal law attorneys.