Interpol Focuses on Asian Big Cats
NEW DELHI, India – Enhancing techniques for investigating crimes against wild tigers and other Asian ‘big cats’was the focus of an INTERPOL meeting in India attended by some 30 senior law enforcement officers.
The five-day (1-5 July) Integrated Investigative Training and Operational Planning Meeting for South Asia was co-hosted by INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). It brought together police, customs and wildlife officers from eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – as well as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and the CITES Secretariat.
Held under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Project Predator, which supports regional efforts for the conservation of wild tigers and other Asian big cats, the meeting explored modern investigative techniques, including intelligence and information management; National Environmental Security Task Forces (NESTs); wildlife forensics and DNA analysis; controlled deliveries; cyber forensics; and effective investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes through the use of INTERPOL’s global tools and services.
Additional partners of the meeting included TRAFFIC, SAWEN, and India’s Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and National Tiger Conservation Authority, while USAID is a strong supporter and funder of Project Predator.
Opening the meeting, Shri Ranjit Sinha, Director of India’s CBI, described wildlife crime as a highly organized, transnational crime conducted by an extensive network of criminals. Referring to tigers as the ‘greatest living symbol of our natural world’, Mr Sinha called for greater coordination between intelligence and law enforcement agencies across international borders.
In recognition of the growing international concern posed by wildlife poaching and trafficking, on 1 July United States President Barack Obama signed an executive order, outlining how wildlife crimes are increasingly coordinated by organized criminal groups and establishing a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking.
INTERPOL’s Project Predator Leader Ioana Botezatu, said: “The recent wave of proactive initiatives, and the increased focus and determination of regional law enforcement agencies to reverse the criminal trend impacting our environment through multi-disciplinary strategic thinking, are a true success of our generation.
“INTERPOL’s resources and secure network enable the wildlife community to be safe in its actions. The Environmental Crime Programme is for this reason recommending countries to provide access to INTERPOL’s I-24/7 network to all law enforcement agencies that could bring value to environmental security. The access will enhance communication in a secure and professional manner, linking and equipping continents, regions, countries and national agencies with the means to fight modern crime,” she added.
“Support from partners such as SAWEN and TRAFFIC is essential for enhancing cohesion between countries in the region to improve wildlife law enforcement,” Ms Botezatu concluded.
During the operational planning portion of the meeting, participants generated ideas to enable national agencies to further develop national plans that will benefit cross-border cooperation under the auspices of Operation Prey, which targets the illegal trade in Asian big cats and wildlife products.
The Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests of India, Jayanthi Natarajan pledged her country’s support for the conservation of wild tigers and all Asian big cats.
“In 50 years of conservation, we have not seen wildlife trade at the scale we see today. It is the greatest threat to some of our wildlife species like the tiger, elephant and rhinoceros. The battle is far from won.
“SAWEN is a very important network to address the challenges of wildlife crime, and I reiterate our support for addressing the illegal trade. Recent evidence shows that wildlife crime networks have been linked to terrorist organizations, so we need more multi-agency collaboration,” concluded Ms Natarajan.
The meeting in New Delhi was the first in a series of two integrated training and operational planning meetings in Asia. A Training and Needs Assessment for Investigate Wildlife Operations in Southeast Asia will be held from 8-12 July in Bangkok, Thailand.
Raising wildlife crime and other environmental crimes on the political agenda is also an objective of the INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement events to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 4-8 November 2013.
Environmental Crime Programme
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HANOI, Vietnam — Police in central Vietnam say they have found the carcasses of two endangered wild tigers in the trunk of a car that was stopped for speeding.
Police in Quang Binh province say they detained the two men in the car for questioning after finding the tiger carcasses Monday. The men told police they were hired by an unknown man to transport the carcasses to nearby Quang Tri province.Tiger bones are used In Vietnam to make a medicine which is used as a traditional pain killer. It sells for about $1,000 for 100 grams, or several hundred dollars an ounce. (more…)
A network of tiger poachers spanning across four states has been unearthed with the arrest of eleven members of three gangs in the last fortnight. Skin of eight leopard and tigers and five kilogram of bones have been seized from them. Their claim of killing eight to ten tigers in less than six months, which is about 40 percent of poaching incidents big cat deaths during the period, has caused panic.
“Their claim is alarming and we are verifying it,” said a senior Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) official. About 18 tiger deaths, of which five were killed this January, have been reported in last one year.
Rise in tiger population from 1,411 to 1,706 in less than a year has pushed the big cats to the protected core areas, thereby making them vulnerable to poaching.
The WCCB officers arrested Dharambir and his four accomplices on Thursday from Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh, and seized skin of four leopards and one tiger.
The animals were apparently killed with the help of iron traps in Corbett Tiger Reserve and Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand.
They have claimed to have transported two consignments to an wildlife dealer in Delhi, identified as Lavi Singh. They were caught with animal parts in Haridwar.
WCCB officials believe that the consignment was meant for sale in the international market. Belinda Wright of NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India said the price of tiger parts has increased manifold in the international market. ” We have seen a sudden spurt in demand in the last few weeks which may be the cause of increase in poaching and seizures,” she said.
The WCCB probe has confirmed Wright’s apprehension after the arrest of a person and the seizure of tiger skin by customs officials in Siliguri, West Bengal. The probe has revealed that tigers were killed in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh also.
The WCCB has been able to establish the links with Siliguri seizure with the network of poachers in these three states.
The officials are also trying to link the arrest of five persons in Kerala and the recovery of a leopard and tiger skin from them with international wildlife smugglers.
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 09, 2012
Bow hunter Bruce Rucker of El Centro said he was hunting deer in the Laguna Mountains from a makeshift ground blind during the archery-only season when a mountain lion closed to within 20 feet of him.
Citing self-defense and the threat of death at the paws and teeth of the lion, Rucker shot the estimated 130-pound lion with his compound bow and killed it. He said the lion had its eyes fixed on him and its ears were pinned back.
Rucker said he stood up, drew his bow and yelled, “Hey,” in a futile attempt to scare the lion, but it kept moving toward him. So he shot it.
At first, responding state Department of Fish and Game wardens ruled the killing of the lion, a “specially protected mammal” in California since voters passed the Mountain Lion Initiative in 1990, was self-defense.
It is the second lion killed and reported by a bow hunter in San Diego County in the last four years. In April 2007, bow hunter Jonathan Stillman killed a lion, which was wearing a radio collar transmitter, as it stalked and closed on his hunting partner, John Vega, during a turkey hunt. The kill was allowed because the wardens determined Vega’s life was in danger.
But this case turned out much differently for Rucker.
After a review of the forensics, the game wardens, Gary Rasse and Erik Fleet, discovered the lion had a cut on one of its paws.
Rucker initially told the wardens he shot the lion once in the chest. When he was questioned later at his vehicle, he admitted he shot it twice. He said the second shot, which merely grazed one of the lion’s paws, was done to put it out of its misery. The wardens didn’t buy it. They felt he’d changed his story too many times and cited Rucker for illegal take of a mountain lion and obstructing justice.
Reluctantly, Rucker accepted a plea bargain last month in El Cajon Superior Court and paid a $500 fine for what was reduced to the equivalent of a traffic ticket. He’s in the process of getting his bow back that the wardens confiscated.
The wardens never took his hunting license or his A-22 archery tag, but Rucker said he’s done hunting in San Diego County.
Rucker was born and raised in Idaho. The Navy brought him to San Diego in 1983. He’s now fleet manager for the El Centro Sector of the Border Patrol, maintaining the agency’s vehicles. He has never been cited for anything, he said, and has always abided by game laws.
Rucker felt the investigating wardens arrived with an agenda when they reached the Laguna woods. Rasse, the warden who cited Rucker, is standing by his reasons for doing so, saying the forensics didn’t match Rucker’s story and that Rucker didn’t kill the cougar in self-defense.
STAFF WRITER 12:58 HRS IST
New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) Two persons were arrested today after two leopard skins and bear bile, which is believed to have medicinal value, were allegedly seized from them in Uttaranchal, an official said.
The two have been identified as Shyam Dutta Joshi and Deepak from Chakrata region in Dehradun, said Ramesh Pandey, a senior official from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) which along with the Special Task Force of the state made the seizure.”
An FIR will be registered at the Vikas Nagar police station. We arrested the two after getting an information about the illegal bear bile trade in the region,” Pandey said.
At least 300-400 gm of bear bile was seized from the accused. “
Bear bile is as precious as a tiger bone and is used as aphrodisiac in Chinese medicines.
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