CITES missed opportunities for tigers, elephants & rhinos
Press release jointly issued by the Environmental Investigation Agency, Wildlife Protection Society of India and FREELAND Foundation
BANGKOK: The global treaty charged with ensuring wildlife is not commercially exploited to extinction fell short of putting the breaks on poaching of elephants, tigers, and rhinos at its biannual meeting that closes today in Bangkok.
Poaching and trafficking of elephants, tigers and rhinos is at crisis levels, yet domestic trade is still allowed and international trade in the body parts of these critically endangered animals is still being negotiated.
“Some experts and governments are sending mixed messages to consumers, traders, and the law enforcement community,” said Steven Galster of FREELAND. “They are advocating for demand reduction efforts on one hand, while discussing legalisation of trade in endangered species on the other. It’s like putting water on one side of the fire of extinction, and gas on the other.
Wildlife Anti-Trafficking Campaign implemented at Cambodia’s Airports
Caption: One of the five designs of electronic signage installed at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airports
PHNOM PENH (May 22, 2013) –Wildlife Alliance installed a “Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here”
Airport Awareness and Training Program to suppress the illegal wildlife trade entering and leaving Cambodia at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airports as part of the “Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program” sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development and in partnership with Freeland Foundation in Bangkok, the Cambodian Forestry Administration, and Cambodia Airports.
Southeast Asia is a major source of illegally traded wildlife, supplying a global black market estimated at US$10-$30 billion annually. Airports around the world, particularly those in Southeast Asia, play key roles as transport hubs for illegal wildlife trade. Ensuring that airport personnel, airline employees, baggage handlers, and Customs and Immigration officers are trained to detect illegal wildlife shipments will make Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airports a first line of defense for stopping illegal wildlife trafficking into and out of Cambodia. It will also demonstrate to visitors Cambodia’s commitment to protect its natural heritage.
The “Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here” program, which will run for one year, consists of several components that were installed in various phases. In November 2012, bilingual electronic signs in Khmer and English were installed on 15 television screens throughout departures, arrivals, and baggage claim areas at Phnom Penh and 13 television screens at Siem Reap International Airports. These signs, which feature a tiger, sunbear, moon bear, pangolin, and giant ibis, inform domestic and international passengers that wildlife trafficking is illegal under Cambodian law and to report wildlife crimes to Wildlife Alliance’s 24 hour nationwide wildlife rescue hotline number, 012-500-094. There is also a silent looped 30-second Public Service Announcement about wildlife trafficking at the Ministry of Tourism screens at the arrival hall at Phnom Penh International Airport.
In January 2013, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) conducted special training seminars for Customs, operations, cargo and baggage handlers, security personnel, and other key airport staff at both airports to raise awareness about illegal wildlife trafficking and Cambodian laws pertaining to the trafficking and transporting of wildlife, common ways that wildlife is shipped illegally, and identification of wildlife, wildlife parts, and fraudulent shipping permits to assist freight logistics staff to prevent illegal activities pertaining to the transportation of wildlife. The WRRT serves as the National Task Force for ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and has rescued over 56,000 live wild animals since it was established in 2001.
On April 26, 2013, Wildlife Alliance installed the final component of the “Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here” program which is a wildlife trafficking exhibition located in International Departures. These four signs provide key facts about the illegal wildlife trade, serve to educate the public about the impact of their actions and the steps they can take to protect wildlife in Cambodia and around the world, and about Wildlife Alliance’s efforts to combat this black market trade.
Note to Editors:
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent U.S. Government Agency that operates under the foreign policy direction of the U.S. Secretary of State. Following 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID is the principal U.S. Government development agency partnering with countries throughout the world to promote peace, prosperity, and security. For more info, visit www.usaid.gov or follow www.facebook.com/USAIDAsia.
Wildlife Alliance is a nongovernmental organization based in Cambodia with the mission to combat deforestation, extinction, climate change, and poverty by partnering with local communities and governments. Wildlife Alliance works directly with habitats and communities in a comprehensive multi-faceted approach to directly address the drivers of deforestation, incorporating the following elements: law enforcement; forest zoning and demarcation; wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and protection; livelihoods; political will; and education. For more information, visit www.wildlifealliance.org.
FREELAND Foundation is an international organization dedicated to making the world free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. It is headquartered in Bangkok and works throughout Asia and beyond. FREELAND programs include support for law enforcement agencies through training and tip-offs; support to vulnerable communities through alternative livelihoods; and public education through mass media campaigns and grassroots outreach. For more information, visit www.freeland.org or www.ithink-now.org or follow us on www.facebook.com/freelandfoundation or twitter @freelandpeople.
Forestry Administration is a government authority under the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries in managing forests and forest resources according to the National Forestry Sector Policy and the Forestry Law. The main objective of FA is to ensure the sustainable management of forests in the country. Wildlife Alliance has partnered with the Forestry Administration since 2001 to combat wildlife crimes and has successfully rescued over 56,000 live wild animals.
Under a public-private partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia, Cambodia Airports holds the concession for the development and the management of Cambodia’s three international airports serving its main economic poles and tourist destinations: the capital city of Phnom Penh; Siem Reap, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Archeological Park; and the port city and resort town of Sihanoukville
The shareholders of Cambodia Airports are France’s VINCI Airports (70%) and Muhibbah Masteron Cambodia (30%), a Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture. The network of international airport, which has a workforce exceeding 1,300, is a key contributor to Cambodia’s economic development. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports provide nearly 500 regular flights per week, connecting both cities to 26 destinations in Asia, Europe and the Gulf region.
Freeland Trust of India Boosts Enforcement Capacity on Wildlife Law
March 19, 2013 Dandeli, India – Legal experts from Freeland Trust of India’s Wildlife Legal Help Centre (WLHC) conducted a one-day workshop on wildlife laws for 36 staff and officers of the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve in Karnataka state.
Hosted by the Karnataka Forest Department, the workshop included participants from all ranks, ranging from Forest Guard to Addnl. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
The comprehensive workshop focused on the laws surrounding the protection of wildlife, namely, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code and Evidence Act. As most of the participants were young recruits, this was their first introduction to the legal procedures used to combat wildlife crime. The workshop ended with a practical session, which focused on offering resolutions to specific cases which are currently being handled by various departments.
“The Karnataka Forest Department has recruited a lot of young and enthusiastic staff and it’s heartening to see that the senior officers are eager to conduct these legal workshops in the field to help the ground level staff tackle wildlife crime cases better. We are very happy that we could be a part of this process,” said Uttara Mendiratta, Chief Operating Officer Freeland Trust of India.
For more information, please contact:
Wildlife Legal Help Centre; Freeland Trust of India
3B, 12/1 Srivatsam, 5th Main Road, Malleswaram, Bangalore 5600 063
Tel: (91) 80 23560575
Asian Gangs Mining African Wildlife
Bangkok, Thailand (May 1, 2013) - FREELAND congratulates French Customs for seizing endangered animal body parts originating in west Africa en route to Southeast Asia this week, while pointing to the opportunity for Europe to join a new global enforcement effort to arrest and prosecute the world's biggest wildlife criminals.
The seizure of 50 kilograms of pangolin scales this week at Charles De Gaulle Airport was the 3rd this month by French Customs, representing the deaths of up to 400 pangolins, which are endangered ant-eaters, prized for their meat and skin as food and medicine in Asian black markets.
FREELAND has discovered that the lucrative illegal trade in pangolins is run by criminals based in Southeast Asia who are also involved in poaching and trafficking of elephants, primates, tigers, leopards, lions, rhinos, and other rare and endangered species. FREELAND has information on the gangs, which it has been sharing with authorities. One kilogram of dried pangolin scales can fetch 500 USD in Vietnam or China, while one full body can fetch over 2,000 USD. The shipment seized by the French was en route to Vietnam.
Working with authorities in Asia and Africa, FREELAND has discovered that Asian gangs are starting to run out of supply of pangolins, elephants, tigers, and other wild animals in Asia, so
they are fast targeting the same or similar species in Africa, including pangolins, which were once abundant across Southeast Asia and China, but are now much harder to find.
In January, the Government of China led and joined police agencies from Southeast and South Asia, Africa, and the United States to launch "Operation Cobra", which was supported financially and technically by FREELAND. The operation led to numerous arrests and prosecutions, as well as voluminous seizures of pangolins, ivory, big cats, and rhino horn. The international investigation task force that ran Cobra plans to keep meeting and working together. Cobra was a new approach to cross border enforcement. It involved an intensive face-to-face coordination team operating together in a war room in one country, while field teams in 3 continents conducted surveillance against criminals and moved in for arrests and seizures in a concerted fashion. The investigation team is called the "Special Investigation Group" on global wildlife trafficking, or the "SIG".
The SIG is government-led and relies on tip-offs, training and other support from FREELAND and its partners across Asia and Africa.
"FREELAND encourages France and the EU to join future SIG operations," said Steven Galster, Director of FREELAND. "Team work and information sharing across border and public-private sector lines will put real pressure on these these criminal gangs that are destroying our earth and put them out of business before it's too late."
Note to Editors:
FREELAND Foundation is an international organization dedicated to stopping illegal wildlife trade and human slavery. FREELAND works throughout Asia, raising public awareness and building local capacity to protect critical ecosystems, wildlife and vulnerable people. FREELAND is the lead implementing partner of the USAID-funded ARREST program. For more information, visit www.freeland.org http://www.facebook.com/
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