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.
The doctrine of sustainable use has failed. Everywhere we look we find that in practice, sustainable use has become sustained abuse. Everywhere we look, we see our precious natural heritage being destroyed. Sustainable use has become just a licence to kill. Whether it is the senseless destruction by rich white men (hunting) or by poor blacks (bushmeat and poaching) or by Asian syndicates (poaching) the result is the same – devastation of biological diversity and dreadful animal suffering on a global scale.
We have forgotten that conservation means “the preservation of natural functioning eco-systems”. Nowadays every hunter calls himself a conservationist – because he is only killing some animals not all of them.
We need a philosophy that gets back to true conservation. However idealistic and aspirational it may be, it is better than adopting a licence to kill as an overarching philosophy.
To preserve biodiversity, we need discipline and rigid protection. One example of this is the island of Santo Domingo. A clear line can be seen running down the border that divides Haiti from the Dominican Republic.
On the Haiti side (left), no trees, no life, just utter environmental ruin. On the Dominican side, some rich natural forests still survive. Why? Because right from the start, the Dominicans adopted a zero tolerance approach to Haitian poachers and woodcutters. The army was deployed to shoot trespassers on sight.
This hard line did not result in substantial loss of human life. Once a dozen or so Haitians had been killed, the message got home, and Haitians stopped coming over the border to poach. The results can be seen today, and right there is the lesson.
Most African governments lack the political will to preserve their natural functioning eco-systems. Even if they had the will, they lack the money, the capacity and the technology to protect their heritage. Right now, Africa is heading steadily in the direction of becoming a continental Haiti – a self-defeating cesspit of poverty, misery and environmental degradation. What is needed is rather for Africa to aim at becoming a continental Dominican Republic.
Yes, involving local tribesman is important. Yes, every effort must be made to divert funds from eco-tourism to local communities so that they feel that they have a stake in the preservation of biodiversity. But along with the carrot must come the stick. Experience has shown that benefits alone are inadequate. Nature reserves need also to be rigidly protected with the most effective modern technology and with military ruthlessness. That needs the support of the developed world. That should not be too hard to get.
However, rigid protection of biodiversity also requires African governments to pursue unpopular policies that will inevitably alienate some sections of their voting constituencies. Based on experience to date, this is most unlikely to happen, if not inconceivable.
There are examples where indigenous people have organised resistance to exploitation of natural resources, such as is happening right now in Amazonia, but this pits them against their own governments and they must needs fight against the national army.
I am not aware of any such grassroots resistance among indigenous tribes of Southern Africa.
Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan
Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO
Kalahari Dream www.kalahari-dream.com
For the love of Wildlife www.fortheloveofwildlife.com
First Impressions Last
When visitors come to Big Cat Rescue they walk up to the Trading Post Gift Shop to sign in and the area in front of the store is shaded, so grass doesn’t grow there. It just means thousands of people, over the course of a year, tracking dirt in the front door.
We recently began laying the http://www.bigcatrescue.biz/ in this area, but don’t have enough donor sponsored bricks yet to fill the entire path, so volunteers and interns spread a new layer of mulch yesterday.
Captive breeding of tigers puts pressure on wild tigers
A THAI deputy prime minister has been charged in connection with the export to China of 100 tigers, an endangered species protected by international law, the attorney general’s office told AFP.
Plodprasop Suraswadi approved the export of tigers from Sriracha Tiger Zoo – a popular tourist attraction a few hours from Bangkok – to a Chinese breeding firm in 2002. He was the head of the forestry department at the time.
He was charged under an article in Thai law which includes the “abuse of power, failing to carry out his duty and/or corruption,” according to Teerayhut Mapame of the attorney general’s office. (more…)
BHOPAL: Hides of a tiger and a cub with gunshot wounds were recovered from three persons close to Pench tiger reserve in eastern Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, casting doubt on the slew of measures and enormous money being spent to protect the endangered tiger.
This is for the first time in the recent times that the poachers had used guns to kill the big cats in the state, apparently after catching the forest ground duty staffers’ napping in the wild. Before this, there had been cases of tiger poaching with poisoning and electrocutions in MP. In early 2009, the much-talked about Panna tiger reserve, which once had 35 tigers, became devoid of big cat population primarily due to poisoning. The gunshot wounds are on the rear side of the hides of the big cat and cub. The three persons, from whom the hides were recovered are residents of Seoni and Chhindwara districts, a top forest department official told TOI.