Monthly Wild Cat News
A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World
Police and customs heads from 13 Asian countries agreed today to tighten controls and improve cross-border cooperation to curb the illegal smuggling of tigers and other critically endangered species. The accord came at the conclusion of the two-day international “Heads of Police and Customs Seminar on Tiger Crime”, which brought together top Police and Customs Officers from countries that still have tigers living in the wild.
Hosted by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), and organised by INTERPOL, in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO), and with the technical and financial support from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat and the World Bank, the Tiger Seminar objective was for participants to agree on a robust set of law enforcement-based solutions to protect tigers and other rare and highly threatened species.
“The tale of the Tiger is not simply about conservation, it is also about crime,” said Mr. Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director. “It concerns transnational organized crime, high profits, widespread corruption, money laundering, fraud, counterfeiting, and violence.”
The Tiger Seminar brought together 26 delegates from 13 tiger range countries as well as senior representatives from ICCWC members and key partner organisations operating in the field of tiger conservation and wildlife crime. A critical Tiger Seminar activity was to raise awareness among Police and Customs authorities of the impact wildlife trafficking has on wild tigers.
“We must take immediate and urgent action to save these magnificent animals from extinction,” said Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “The global Customs community is firmly committed to working closely with its partners to stop criminal trafficking in endangered species and other environment sensitive goods, by ensuring more vigilant and effective border enforcement among a range of measures.”
Environmental crime is a serious international problem with a detrimental impact on the global economy and security. Criminals violate national and international laws through increasingly sophisticated techniques and highly organised networks. Their activities directly affect human health, and threaten the environment and global biodiversity.
“Our efforts to fight tiger crime must not just result in seizures – they must result in prosecutions, convictions and strong penalties to stop the flow of contraband,” said Mr. John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General. “If we get the enforcement system right for the tiger, we will help save countless other species together with their ecosystems.”
Tiger conservation experts presented an up-to-date situation analysis of wild tiger conservation threats, particularly worldwide and Asian trans-national organized crime links to wildlife crimes, including the trade in tigers and tiger parts.
“Wildlife and other environmental criminals too often operate in remote areas with impunity, evading detection, and circumventing full prosecution under the law,” said Mr. Keshav Varma, Program Director, World Bank Global Tiger Initiative. “The World Bank and Global Tiger Initiative fully support the resolve of the police and customs officials from tiger range countries to collaborate on intelligence. We applaud efforts to intensify pressure on the organizers of criminal networks and corrupt officials who shield them.”
Working with environmental crime experts, participating tiger-range country police and customs senior officials agreed on cross-border action points, opportunities and cooperation strategies, after discussing national priorities, challenges, and reviewing best practices.
“This important seminar has highlighted the environmental crime challenges facing senior law enforcement officers and the need for enhanced international cooperation.,” said Mr. Jean-Michel Louboutin, INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services. “Criminals cannot prosper from abusing our shared natural heritage.”
Tiger Seminar attendees discussed the need to develop a coordinated response to combat tiger crime.
“We need to work collectively through our respective environmental programmes,” said INTERPOL’s Mr. Jean-Michel Louboutin. “In this context, the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore will from 2014 provide a key platform to fight environmental crimes in the 21st century.”
The Seminar also recognised INTERPOL’s Project Predator, which aims to develop the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and form National Environmental Security Task Forces.
“If we lose an emblematic species like the Tiger, mankind will be acknowledging that it is prepared to lose any animal on the planet. This must not be allowed to happen.” said Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC. “By our actions, we must show that we have the capacity, the ability and the commitment to protect other species living on this planet.”
Animals in need and endangered species around the world will benefit from more than $1 million in grants awarded this year by the nonprofit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Since its creation eight years ago, the Fund has granted more than $8 million to protect wildlife and wild places like big cats in Africa.
The Fund approved grants to more than 100 wildlife protection projects, such as those that benefit big cats, including programs to reintroduce endangered cheetahs to the African wild.
“From big cats to penguins, these species are in dire need of help. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens work to educate and inspire guests to care about the plight of these animals, and these grants from the Fund support our conservation partners working in the field,” said Brad Andrews, president and executive director of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and chief zoological officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Together, we can make a world of difference for these extraordinary species that share our world.”
Highlights of the more than 100 projects and organizations include Big Cats in Big Trouble.
The big cats of the world are disappearing. There are fewer than 12,000 cheetahs throughout Africa and less than half the number of lions that were there only 50 years ago. The Fund is supporting seven conservation organizations around the world that work to stop the decline of big cats and identify conservation strategies for their future.
* The Dell Cheetah Centre is researching and identifying ways to reintroduce South African cheetahs to the wild.
* The Cheetah Conservation Fund provides field training of cheetah-scat detection dogs to help protect livestock from cheetah predation and educates local youth in Namibia, Africa to learn the importance of cheetahs in their eco-systems and culture.
* Cheetah Outreach is implementing an educational program created to raise awareness of the threats cheetahs face in the wild.
* Cheetah Conservation Botswana is developing methods for assessing cheetah and wild dog populations in the Kalahari region of Botswana, Africa.
* World Wildlife Fund is working to save the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger.
* Ewaso Lion Project is investigating the factors affecting the population dynamics of lions in and around local reserves in northern Kenya.
* WildiZe Foundation addresses the numerous underlying causes for the lion’s decline and involves local communities to reduce conflicts leading to the demise of these animals.