Vol 2010/01 - February Newsletter
FREELAND Applauds a Groundbreaking Cooperative Effort to Shut Down an Illegal International Ivory Trafficking Operation
USAID-supported FREELAND Foundation and the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) assisted Thai and U.S. authorities prosecute 4 ivory traffickers after a series of arrests were conducted between late November and January 17th. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California declared charges against a Thai national and an American citizen for violating U.S. federal smuggling statutes, while the Royal Thai Police prosecuted the same Thai national and two more for violating Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Preservation Act B.E.2535, section 20, 23, and 24, and Customs Act B.E.2469, section 27.
From this year-long joint Thai-U.S. investigation with technical support from FREELAND Foundation, authorities recovered six whole, raw endangered African elephant tusks. The tusks weighed 32 kilograms and where valued at more than THB1 million (USD $30,222). Undercover investigators were led to believe that additional and much larger stocks were available.
FREELAND hopes authorities will continue working up the chain, putting the king-pins of this destructive multi-billion dollar trade behind bars before the world is permanently robbed of elephants and other endangered species. We also appeal to consumers to think twice about any ivory they consider buying – despite the sellers claims, it may come from an elephant that was killed recently, just for its tusks.
Thai Military and Police Strengthen Forest Protection Training
FREELAND Foundation helped deliver a two-week Enforcement Ranger Basic Training Course for 42 Thai rangers from Thap Lan National Park and Pang SidaNational Park at the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division Queen's Guard in Prachinburi, Thailand during February 15-28. The course was co-hosted by FREELAND Foundation and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) with support from the Royal Thai Army (RTA), the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) and the Border Patrol Police (BPP) as an attempt to protect the countrys natural resources. The RTA, RTN andBPP conducted lessons during this course with guidance from FREELAND instructors in order to begin standardizing this course to be implemented and institutionalized by Thai national authorities throughout the country to all forest rangers. The rangers practiced field training for the specialized skills including navigation, remote first aid, patrols, raids and takedowns, hostile engagement drills and other techniques required to patrol Thailand's protected areas safely and effectively. The course follows the ASEAN Centre of Biodiversity’s competency standards for protected area jobs and has been implemented in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam training over 1,000 rangers, police and military.
All rangers who participated were selected candidates from a one-day intensive Ranger Selection Course held on January 18 in Thap Lan National Park, Thailand.
Multi-National Help to Save the Wild Tiger
As a follow-up meeting from the four-day Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop during October last year, the Thai government hosted the 1st Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in Hua Hin, Thailand during January 28-29, 2010. Seven ministers and senior delegations from all 13 tiger range countries came together at this conference to energize the wildlife conservation agenda, update national action plans, and announce specific proposals to reverse the decline of tiger populations.
Through a side event, NGO regional meeting, FREELAND Foundation shared experience and held discussions on how each organization can cooperate to further support the new government efforts in tiger protection.
At the end of the conference, all governments involved declared their commitment to reverse the declining trend in tiger numbers and double the wild tiger population by 2022. Only 3,200 wild tigers are known to exist worldwide, according to latest estimates, down from 100,000 a century ago. They also called for strengthening national tiger conservation action plans ahead of a Global 'Heads of State' Tiger Summit scheduled for Vladivostok, Russia, in September 2010.
Thai, Malaysia Join in “On-the-Job Training” for Wildlife Crime Investigation
FREELAND Foundation with the support of a U.S. Forest Service Special Agent, conducted the first ever on-the-job joint wildlife crime investigation training between Malaysia and Thailand, held in Hat Yai, Thailand. As a response to a known hot spot for illegal wildlife trade, across the Thai-Malay border, this training course integrated instruction, demonstration, and practical application for participants while being guided through a real wildlife crime investigation. Altogether 9 officers from Thailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Royal Thai Police, Royal Thai Customs and Malaysian government officers were trained.
Facilitated by the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and supported by USAID, this training is all hands-on, allowing students to apply the latest criminal investigation techniques and methods to detect the violations, gather evidence, document the crimes and start shutting down the illegal commercial wildlife trade.
Travelers Urged to Take Responsibility for Asia's Environment
"If we keep a place for nature, nature keeps a place for us" is the tag-line of a new public awareness campaign, which debuted at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport at the Domestic Departure Hall and at the Arrival Gate, Exit C. Developed with pro bono support from multi-national creative firm JWT and outdoor advertising group Kinetic Worldwide, this eye-catching USAID-funded visual campaign highlights the species most at risk if nature continues to be over-exploited, including humans - "the piece of responsibility". Consumer demand is driving an illicit trade in protected wildlife that threatens to cause the extinction of many species. Positioned in prime location above Airport Customs, the launch ad alone will reach almost 1 million passengers over the next six weeks.
March 24-25: Wildlife Law Enforcement Network and Workshop in Vientiane, Laos PDR
March 26: FREELAND Foundation Launch Event will be held at Bangkok Art and Culture Center