INTERPOL Conference In South Asia Aims to Improve Wildlife Crime Investigation Skills
Enhancing techniques for investigating crimes against wild tigers and other Asian ‘big cats’ was the focus of a recent INTERPOL meeting in India.
The five-day conference took place July 1-5 in New Delhi and was attended by some 30 senior law enforcement officers. the event brought together police, customs and wildlife officers from eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – as well as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and the CITES Secretariat.
Known as the Integrated Investigative Training and Operational Planning Meeting for South Asia, the meeting described wildlife crime as a highly organized, transnational crime conducted by an extensive network of criminals.
In recognition of the growing international concern posed by wildlife poaching and trafficking, United States President Barack Obama signed an executive order on July 1, outlining how wildlife crimes are increasingly coordinated by organized criminal groups. President Obama also established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking.
INTERPOL’s Project Predator Leader Ioana Botezatu, told attendees:
“INTERPOL’s resources and secure network enable the wildlife community to be safe in its actions. The Environmental Crime Programme is for this reason recommending countries to provide access to INTERPOL’s I-24/7 network to all law enforcement agencies that could bring value to environmental security. The access will enhance communication in a secure and professional manner, linking and equipping continents, regions, countries and national agencies with the means to fight modern crime.”
The Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests of India, Jayanthi Natarajan pledged her country’s support for the conservation of wild tigers and all Asian big cats. She said:
“In 50 years of conservation, we have not seen wildlife trade at the scale we see today. It is the greatest threat to some of our wildlife species like the tiger, elephant and rhinoceros. The battle is far from won.
“SAWEN is a very important network to address the challenges of wildlife crime, and I reiterate our support for addressing the illegal trade. Recent evidence shows that wildlife crime networks have been linked to terrorist organizations, so we need more multi-agency collaboration.”