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On December 17 - 18, 2016, Mukdahan Wildlife Checkpoint, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, coordinated with inspection officials of Royal Forest Department, local security officials, Mekhong Riverine Unit, and Border Patrol Police in seizing contraband wild orchids around the Indochinese market in Mukdahan Province (Thailand), opposite to Savannakhet Province (Lao PDR). After which, Mukdahan Wildlife Checkpoint sent out officers to engage in Public Relation works around the Indochinese market, handling out brochures dissuading against the buying or selling of wild orchids to ensure the wild flora stays off the market.

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Ten-fold Increase in Enforcement Actions and Evidence of Consumer Behavior Change Spotlight Hope for Wildlife

Bangkok, September 15, 2016 – A five-year, U.S.-sponsored program to combat wildlife trafficking in Asia has significantly increased law enforcement collaboration and public awareness while reducing endangered species sales in several hotspots, experts announced at a press conference in Bangkok today.

Working across Southeast Asia and China, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program tackled the multi-billion-dollar illegal trade in endangered species amid new signs of positive shifts in consumer behavior.

“Poaching and the illegal trade of wildlife have far-reaching consequences that have the potential to undermine decades of development gains,” said Beth S. Paige, director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia. “The loss of wildlife and the presence of traffickers affect the safety of rural communities and threatens their livelihoods. Through our support to this project, we were able to raise the alarm about wildlife trafficking and help leaders coordinate for greater action to end this crime.”

Training for more than 2,300 officers from 14 countries helped lead to a ten-fold increase in law enforcement actions, including over 1,300 arrests and the seizure of more than $150 million in criminal assets. Developed by the program in 2013 and led by the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network, the now annual “Operation Cobra” resulted in a record-breaking number of arrests and seizures. By 2015, the operation included 47 countries cooperating on 247 cases, which led to the arrest of 125 suspects.

With program support, officials have exposed and disrupted three intercontinental criminal supply chains, putting wildlife trafficking kingpins out of business in parts of Asia and Africa. This includes the arrests yesterday of five major ivory traffickers in Congo who were the exporters of the record 2.1-ton haul of elephant tusks seized by Thai Customs, destined for Laos, in April 2015. This successful enforcement action resulted from joint training and information sharing between Asian and African investigators sponsored by the program.

Mass communications behavior change campaigns in China, Thailand and Vietnam stigmatized consumption of endangered species, reaching over 40 million people per day at their peak. The upshot was a clear shift in the mindset of wildlife consumers, said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia’s Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an ARREST partner. “One survey in 2015 showed that the number of consumers with the intention of buying ivory in the future had declined by 38 percent in China when compared to 2013, this clearly shows that campaigns are having an impact,” she said.

“With poaching and trafficking still posing a threat to wildlife, there’s definitely more work to be done,” said Steven Galster, director of USAID’s implementing partner, Freeland. “But ARREST put wildlife crime clearly in view of Asia’s law enforcement community, which means poachers and traffickers are finally on the defensive.”

Going forward, government and civil society stakeholders will continue the work started under the program. “We adopted ARREST training materials about fighting wildlife crime, and are disseminating across the country for our police force to use and our cadets to study,” said Dr. Tran Minh Chat, Deputy Director of the People’s Police Academy of Vietnam.

ARREST featured an alliance of more than 50 government agencies, nongovernmental and civil society organizations working across many parts of Asia to protect species threatened by extinction, including elephants, pangolins, rhinos, tigers and timber. For more information and high-res photos, please contact Matthew Pritchett at

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call +662 254 8321 Ext. 121

Host and Supporting Organizations The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient societies to realize their potential. 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. Please visit www.usaid.gov/asia-regional or follow facebook.com/USAIDAsia and @USAIDAsia on Twitter for more information. Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Its team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is the lead implementing partner of the ARREST program. For more info, visit www.freeland.org or follow Freeland on Twitter @FREELANDpeople or www.facebook.com/freelandfoundation.

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On September 1, 2016, Lat Krabang Wildlife Checkpoint worked with Ivory Control Sub-Division Officials, Division of Wild Flora and Fauna (Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation), and Royal Thai Police Ivory Suppression Operation Division in inspecting ivory stores in Ratchathewi district and Nong Khaem district in Bangkok. No violations were found while 1 store expressed intent to cease operation in ivory trades.

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On August 30, 2016, Thai officials from Ivory Control Sub-Division , Division of Wild Fauna and Flora (Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation: DNP) inspected the following ivory stores; Baan Thai Gems Co.,Ltd. located in Dusit District, Daeng Uthai Thani store in Klong Thom Market, and Seak Kee store on Chareonkrung road.
The inspection was joined by officials from the Royal Thai Police as follows: Specialized Operation Team (Ivory Suppression Operation Police Division), Specialized Operation Team (Ivory Suppression and Information Network, Metropolitan Police Bureau), Specialized Operation Team (Ivory Suppression and Information Network, Royal Thai Police Op. 1), and local police officials from Chakrawat Police Station, Phapphachai 1 Police Station, and Dusit Police Station.

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On 27 – 28 August, 2016, continued efforts were made by Division of Wild Flora and Fauna, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, in campaigning in Chatuchak Market against the illegal wildlife trade, especially illegal ivory trade. Officials encouraged foreign tourists who visited the market to adopt a stance against dealing in ivory and ivory-related products

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