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BANGKOK, September 17, 2014 - Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Freeland today launched WildScan, a new endangered species identification and response mobile application for law enforcement to use in combatting the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade. The mobile application is designed to help law enforcement officials respond to wildlife trafficking, an illicit trade estimated at $19 billion per year and run by organized criminal syndicates. WildScan contains photos and critical information for over 280 endangered species and illegal wildlife products commonly trafficked into and throughout Southeast Asia to assist in proper identification and rapid response.

“Wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia is a serious threat to biodiversity, human wellbeing, and feeds into transnational organized criminal networks,” said Mr. Do Quang Tung, the Chairperson of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and Chief of the CITES Management Authority of Vietnam. “This app is a game-changing approach that empowers law enforcers and the public at large across the region to work together and fight back.”

ASEAN-WEN, an integrated ASEAN enforcement body composed of environment, police and customs officials working together to combat wildlife and marine resources trafficking in Southeast Asia, has supported the development of this app that digitizes and upgrades its existing species ID manual.

“The U.S. Government is strongly committed to working with partners in the region to address this serious and growing problem, and smart and creative use of technology, like WildScan, will contribute much to these efforts," said U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney. “The application makes it possible for all of us to report wildlife trafficking and do our part to support ongoing law enforcement efforts to counter this illegal trade.”

WildScan was produced through a collaborative partnership between academics, law enforcement, scientists and other wildlife specialists. Developed under the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program, implemented by Freeland, the application allows users to input information such as the color and size of the animal in question to quickly identify the species. It also includes essential animal care instructions and a simple reporting function.

Many endangered animals, including birds and turtles, are smuggled with non-protected species, making timely identification difficult for authorities. Through a unique identification tool and high resolution photos, WildScan increases the ability of law enforcement to effectively and efficiently identify animals and animal products without having to use large reference books.

Another less known component of the illicit wildlife trade is the illegal pet trade in endangered animals, which ranges from primates to exotic reptiles and insects. Consumers are often unable to distinguish between which animals qualify as legal pets, a situation further complicated by the fact many countries are not effectively enforcing wildlife laws. WildScan will provide information about endangered and protected species so that they can make informed decisions about choosing pets.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) played a large role in WildScan’s development, with support from various specialist groups of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission and Red List Authorities, verifying the information provided for many of the endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) contributed knowledge on the wildlife products section. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the World Animal Protection (WAP) provided detailed temporary care instructions and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University contributed to information that will be used to help warn users of potential disease wildlife can transmit to humans.

WildScan is available for free download on Android devices via Google Play and will support both Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese languages in 2015. Visit www.wildscanapp.com for more information.

For more information, please contact: Freeland 
Contact: Matthew Pritchett 
Deputy Director of Communications 
+662 254 8321 
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 

Photos and story courtesy of FREELAND

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OPERATION COBRA II PRESS RELEASE - 10th FEBRUARY 2014

African, Asian and North American Law Enforcement Officers Team up to Apprehend Wildlife Criminals

Law Enforcement officers from 28 countries today announced that they completed a joint one month global operation on January 27th , code-named "Operation Cobra II" targeting wildlife criminals. The global wildlife law enforcement operation was coordinated by two International Coordination Teams (ICTs) based in Nairobi and Bangkok respectively, and was conducted under the auspices of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) and China's National Inter-agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (NICECG), with links to countries across Africa, Asia and the USA. Operation Cobra II resulted in over 400 arrests and more than 350 major wildlife seizures. The cooperative effort also saw the first ever joint China-Africa undercover sting operation that identified and arrested members of a major ivory trafficking syndicate.

During Operation Cobra II, investigators from participating countries joined together with the World Customs Organization (WCO), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), INTERPOL, LATF, ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and exchanged real time intelligence on a daily basis, targeting poachers and traffickers of endangered elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins, turtles and other species sought by criminals.

The operation resulted in the seizure of 36 rhino horns, over 3 metric tons of elephant ivory, over 10,000 turtles, over 1,000 skins of protected species, over 10,000 European Eels and more than 200 metric tons of rosewood logs. More than 400 criminals were arrested in Asia and Africa. Several of those arrested included trafficking kingpins. In addition, new intelligence on poaching and trafficking syndicates was accumulated, arming governments to continue investigations with increasingly clearer targets. Operation coordinators also evaluated Cobra II and made joint plans for continuing and improving their cross border operations in the future.

Organized by LATF, China, USA, South Africa, ASEAN-WEN and SAWEN, the Operation brought together Customs, police and wildlife authorities to combat wildlife crime in Botswana, Brunei-Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, China including Hong Kong SAR, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mozambique, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, USA, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Prior to the operation, a training and planning meeting for ICT members and national coordinators were organized by LATF and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), which comprises the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO) respectively. The training strengthened the skills of law enforcement officers to combat transnational organized wildlife crime more effectively through the use of a broad range of innovative and specialized investigation techniques. It further exposed these officers to hands on training on the use of tools and services available to them through ICCWC partner agencies. During Operation COBRA II, CENcomm, the WCO's secure and encrypted communication tool was used to exchange crucial intelligence and information and to coordinate operational activities. WCO's Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices for the Asia and the Pacific (RILO A/P) and Eastern and Southern Africa (RILO ESA) sent officers to the ICT in Bangkok and Nairobi. INTERPOL and the CITES Secretariat coordinated follow-up investigations into several seizures, including the collection of samples of confiscated specimens for DNA profiling.

Many of the members of ICT are also part of the "Special Investigation Group" on wildlife crime ("SIG"), which grew out of ASEAN-WEN's 10 member countries and now includes global memberships. The SIG has been conducting joint training or investigation sessions for 5 years, with support from the USAID-sponsored Asia's Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program, China and ASEAN-WEN.

Mr. Bonaventure Ebayi, the LATF Director said that "the success of operation Cobra II came from the successful coordination, cooperation and the intelligence generated to combat wildlife crime syndicates." As he pointed out that "in as much as the seizures of contrabands were very good, but the real impact was in the intelligence gained, networks developed and the number of investigations, arrests and prosecution of the suspects behind these illegal shipments."

Mr. Wan Ziming, the NICECG coordinator highly commended the operation: "This operation turns words into action by implementing commitments made by our governments in various summits, conferences and conventions. We brought all stakeholders together to create best practices, facilitate cooperation, and coordinate interceptions of wildlife traffickers and follow-up investigations."

Follow-up investigations are still ongoing in among many Asian and African countries. In addition, many best practices have been created, such as: China and Kenya joining hands under the coordination of LATF and NICECG to arrest and deport a notorious wildlife smuggler from Kenya to China for prosecution; the interception of an illegal shipment of rosewood logs originating from Madagascar in Tanzania based on intelligence provided by ICCWC partners to the ICT and then communicated to Tanzania; the seizure and repatriation of 2,700 confiscated pig-nose turtles from Hong Kong SAR to Indonesia; and the collection of samples from the confiscated ivory in Uganda for DNA analysis.

Operation COBRA II was financially supported principally by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Narcotics and International Law Enforcement Affairs, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives implemented by the Canadian Government and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) provided additional financial support, as did participating countries. The Freeland Foundation, an international counter-trafficking organization and LATF mobilized the financial support and provided the logistical and training support as well as tip-off information on wildlife trafficking syndicates.



For more information, please contact:

Mr. Theotimus N. Rwegasira Mr. WAN Ziming
Ag Intelligence Officer Director
Lusaka Agreement Task Force [LATF] Law Enforcement and Training Division
Nairobi Kenya CITES Management Authority of China
Tel: +254 722204008/9 Tel: (8610) 84239004
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Wildlife Crime: Don’t be part of it!

UNODC launches new public service announcement to
raise awareness of criminal trade in wildlife products

Bangkok, 19 November 2013 – The illicit trade of wildlife and its derivatives to, from, and within Asia is worth billions of dollars annually. It fuels organized crime, corruption, and violence. This transnational crime has rarely been a priority for law enforcement and the criminal justice system, allowing traffickers to enjoy a high level of impunity so far.

A rich bio-diversity hot-spot, Southeast Asia and the Pacific is both a point of origin and destination for a significant trade in wildlife that threatens many vital and endangered species with extinction. Rare wildlife is consumed throughout Asia – but particularly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Viet Nam and Thailand – for luxury meals, and used for status symbol ornaments and in traditional medicine. Asia is now a significant consumer market for smuggled wildlife, driving the massive scale of poaching in Africa.

To highlight the urgency of this issue, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific is launching a wildlife crime public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness among young Asians that the buying, selling, and consuming of protected species is illegal and finances organized crime.

Featuring internationally renowned Chinese actress Li Bing Bing, who is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environment Programme, the PSA vividly illustrates how wildlife crime inflicts a tragic toll of destruction. It asks viewers to make a difference by changing their consumption habits today. Delivered by Ms. Li, the PSA’s message is simple: Buying protected wildlife is a crime. Don’t be partof it!

“In today’s globalized society, young people are better informed and can drive change. They can make informed choices and decide not to be part of this trade which lines the pockets of criminals,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director. “By showing the consequences of the illegal wildlife trade – corruption, organized crime, and the extinction of endangered species – this PSA asks young people in Asia to make a radical change,” he added.

The PSA, which was funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Department of State, is available in English and Mandarin, and in subtitled Thai and Vietnamese versions:

  • English: http://youtu.be/I3jlt16LhPs
  • Mandarin: http://youtu.be/v7tOGidCbb0
  • Thai: http://youtu.be/MeBSwzzaEMs
  • Vietnamese: http://youtu.be/Y7VNOgUG3C8

The social media pack can be downloaded from: http://j.mp/Wildlife-Crime-PSA (available in English, Thai, and Vietnamese)

For further information please contact:
John Bleho, Media and Communications Specialist
UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
T: (+66) 2288.2091 | M: (+66) 81.750.0539 | E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This press release in PDF
This press release in Thai
This press release in Vietnamese

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On July 31, 2013, Thailand commemorated World Ranger Day in Pangsida National Park at Sa Kaew Province. The event paid tribute to fallen and injured rangers in the line of duty, and celebrated the work of rangers in protecting the world's natural treasures and resources.

Mr. Vichet Kasemthongsri, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, along with Udom Graiwattnuson, Secretary General of the Ministry of National Resources and Environment, attended the ceremony. The event was put on and sponsored by The World Heritage Site, DNP, Freeland Foundation and IUCN, which was the first World Ranger Day event held in Thailand. The attendees included rangers, students and civilians from the local community.

Mr. Vichet expressed the importance of the ranger's duties in protecting and preserving the natural resources and environment. In the past 10 years, there have been 1,000 rangers who have lost their lives on the line of duty. This past year, there were 83 casualties and 49 injuries collectively around the world. A recent significant case involved the forest rangers in the area of Dong Phaya Yen, Khao Yai district, where 3 rangers lost their lives and 4 others were wounded.

Thai rangers are set out to protect 73 million hectares, however, the funds to support that capacity is very limited. A rising issue of illegal logging of rosewood creates a greater risk for the rangers trying to protect the natural environment. Mr. Vichet promised to establish a welfare fund for fallen and wounded rangers, along with support for their family members.

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(Bangkok, 12 July 2013) Between August 8 and August 22, 2012, government agencies from Asia and the United States participated in a global operation that aims to disrupt the widespread trading of protected wildlife and wildlife parts through the internet. Operation Wild Web joined the efforts of service special agents and conservation officers from the United States, lead by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with counterpart task forces and officers from Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, in the ASEAN region.

Operation Wild Web resulted in 154 “buy/busts” in the United States, involving 30 Federal wildlife crimes and 124 violations of State wildlife laws. Coordination of the operation in ASEAN-WEN has also exposed online trafficking of live protected birds and tiger and leopard skins in Southeast Asia. Wildlife and wildlife products seized during Operation Wild Web included the pelts of endangered big cats such as Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar; live migratory birds; sea turtle shells and sea turtle skin boots; whale teeth; elephant ivory; migratory bird mounts; walrus ivory; and other items.

Participating and supporting government agencies in Southeast Asia include Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry and National Police, Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), and Thailand’s Royal Thai Police and Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP). The Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and FREELAND Foundation also provided assistance during the operation.

In support of the Operation Wild Web, Myanmar also reported having confiscated in 4 separate incidents the following wildlife and wildlife products: 7 alive hill mynas; 74 alive parakeets; and fresh and dried sambar meat. Actions have been taken against offenders under the Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas Law. Participating agencies included the Alaungdaw Katthapa National Park, the Region Forest Department, the Myanmar Police Force, the Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Wildlife Police Force.

 

Additional read and photographs of seizures available at fws.gov (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

 

For more information, please contact:
ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network
Program Coordination Unit
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 
Tel: +66-(0)2-940 6286

Copyright © 2017 ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network. All Rights Reserved.

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