Legal Program

Kenya is considered as one of the world’s most notorious hotspots of poaching and hubs of trafficking in wildlife products of various species. In fact, Kenya is considered by the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species as a country that does not meet all the legal requirements in the compliance with protection standards of wildlife under the convention and as such has a low response to wildlife crime. In line with WildlifeDirect’s mission, the Legal Department engages with all relevant wildlife law enforcement authorities in Kenya to strengthen their response to wildlife crime. It engages with these authorities through several targeted activities.

Eyes in the Courtroom Project

The Eyes in the Courtroom Project is run in partnership with the Judiciary Training Institute and analyses, monitors and tracks all wildlife crime cases in one hundred and ten courts in Kenya. This is done with the goal of analyzing how the Judiciary handles and disposes wildlife crime cases while also monitoring the effectiveness of the newly enacted wildlife law, the Wildlife Conservation & Management Act 2013.

Wildlife crime data generated through this project is shared with wildlife law enforcement authorities who now can map trends of wildlife crime and guide institutional reform. This collection of wildlife crime data is novel and has never been done before in the country. WildlifeDirect intend to develop a wildlife crime software database to aid in the collection and management of wildlife crime data. This system will share data and analysis real-time with relevant wildlife enforcement authorities.

Trafficking kingpin Feisal Mohamed Ali being escorted to the courtroom after a Mombasa Law Court found Feisal Mohamed Ali guilty of illegal possession of ivory in 2016. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined 20 million shillings (US $200,000). This landmark ruling is the greatest victory for wildlife justice and symbolizes the country’s war on traffickers and poaching gangs. Following his detainment, WildlifeDirect provided watching briefs on behalf of conservation organizations and supported and monitored the courtroom proceedings, demanding transparency, accountability and due diligence which ultimately led to Ali’s conviction.

Investigatory Support

WildlifeDirect cooperates with both state and non-state actors in the investigation of wildlife crime cases and the sharing of intelligence leading to the arrest of illegal wildlife trade perpetrators. Most famously through #Handsoffourelephants and #catchfeisal, WildlifeDirect contributed to efforts that led to the arrest of Feisal Mohammed Ali, the world’s most wanted ivory trafficker.

Prosecutorial Support

WildlifeDirect partners with leading prosecutorial agencies in Kenya to ensure that wildlife crime cases are prosecuted diligently to secure convictions. Using the analysis from wildlife crime data collected, the legal department can identify cases in need of amendment and correction to ensure that cases are not lost. This prosecutorial support maintains pressure on wildlife crime prosecutors to execute their mandate and deliver justice for wildlife.

Development of Reference and  Resource Materials

WildlifeDirect has developed a variety of resource material for use by wildlife law enforcement officers while they handle wildlife crime cases, including judges, magistrates, prosecutors, investigators and the greater Kenyan public. These resource materials are in the form of reference guides that include the Guide to the Wildlife Conservation & Management Act for prosecutors and the public, the Rapid Reference Guide to the prosecution of wildlife crimes for prosecutors and investigators and the Bench Book which is currently under development for judges and magistrates.

Capacity Development of Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers

To build the capacity of wildlife law enforcement officers, WildlifeDirect has conducted various workshops and training seminars on emerging jurisprudence in wildlife law, key changes in wildlife protection laws and best practices into the protection of wildlife and prosecution of wildlife crime. These workshops target judges, magistrates and prosecutors that handle wildlife crime cases regularly.

Promoting African Leadership in Championing Wildlife Protection

WildlifeDirect also engages with state and non-state actors to improve the protection status of wildlife under law. Through key engagements with other organizations and donors, WildlifeDirect has been able to engage with thought leaders at the highest levels of government and private sector alliances. WildlifeDirect leverages on this access to champion the enactment and amendment of pro – wildlife laws, improve protection of wildlife, elevation of wildlife crime to “serious crime” status, engaging on development in wildlife protected areas and championing for greater wildlife protection.


The Eyes in the Courtroom Program is a partnership between WildlifeDirect, the Judiciary Training Institute, the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Space for Giants and Kenya Wildlife Service, and is generously supported by Save The Elephant, Wildlife Conservation Network’s Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), Whitley Segre Foundation, Cedar Hill Foundation and the Straus Family Foundation.