SANParks Environmental & Corporate Investigations
Environmental & Corporate Investigations (ECI) is a department of SANParks that has been in existence for almost thirty years. It began life in Kruger National Park by the now-retired Ken Maggs; a name synonymous with wildlife protection and anti-poaching efforts in south Africa. The idea back then being that the unit would collect poaching related intelligence and information and offer assistance in investigations as well as related court proceedings. Having undergone several iterations since then, today the unit exists as Environmental and Corporate Investigations.
Headquartered in Skukuza the unit has offices in Pretoria, Nelspruit, Phalaborwa, Eastern Cape and in Cape Town, where as Manager of the Cape Town office, Carl Nortier explains “We have three investigators, two canines, one vessel, and we work throughout the country; we’re not confined to Table Mountain National Park. We assist Richtersveld National Park, Namaqua National Park, West Coast National Park, Agulhas and Bontebok National Park.”
The unit’s main focus is still on information gathering and working on specialised investigations within our national parks, and in the environmental crime field. Corruption within the organisation is also tackled. When asked what the unit spends most of its time investigating, Nortier is quick to point out “ abalone poaching…” And while as much as ninety five percent of the unit’s duties may be spent trying to curb abalone poaching along our coastline, they are also actively protecting other species too. “Succulents from the Richtersveld and reptiles; your geckos, snakes, tortoises. All for the overseas market, where it’s a big bucks racket,” confirms Carl.
The unit’s hard work and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed ,as Nortier confirms “We just recently won, for the fourth year, the International Rhino Conservation Award for Political, Investigative & Judicial Support so we are an effective unit that is internationally quite highly respected.”