Brussels, Belgium, 13 June 2008—As the most popular time for holidays approaches, the Belgian government has launched a campaign to encourage holiday makers to take great care over what souvenirs they buy to remind them of their travels.
The campaign, “Leave a future for your souvenir” was formally launched by Vice-Minister of Belgium, Laurette Onkelinx, and aims to ensure tourists don’t buy inappropriate or illegal souvenirs and thereby contribute to conservation problems for certain species or break local or international laws.
Information leaflets targeting tourists, developed by the Belgian government in collaboration with TRAFFIC and WWF, will be distributed at Brussels international airport, through travel agents and by WWF.
Every year, several hundred illegal souvenirs are confiscated from holiday makers returning home to Belgium—they include items made from coral and ivory. Since 2003, 307 pieces of ivory, 238 elephant hair bracelets and 15 tortoises have been confiscated at Brussels international airport.
Latest news from TRAFFIC
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 13 June 2008—On 7 June, police in Lao Cai, Viet Nam, arrested a man for illegally transporting five white rhinoceros horns into Viet Nam. The horns, weighing approximately 18 kg in total, were obtained during a hunting expedition in South Africa and smuggled into the country for use in traditional medicine. They are estimated to be worth USD200 000.
According to reports in the Earth Times, Customs police originally seized the horns at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, but did not arrest the suspect until the horns were confirmed as originating from White Rhinoceros.
Tiger experts welcome World Bank’s commitment to Tiger conservation
Washington, USA, 9 June 2008—The World Bank has announced a global joint venture to help reverse the decline in numbers of Tigers in the wild—the first-ever species initiative by the Bank.
The initiative aims to create a "Tiger restoration filter” to ensure that future World Bank projects do not harm wild Tigers but instead help restore their populations through increasing the political will to reverse the decline in wild Tigers and creating innovative funding mechanisms to support Tiger conservation.
Cambridge, UK, 4 June 2008—An Indonesian sergeant major and three other suspects have been arrested by local police as they escorted a consignment of Sumatran Tiger skins to Medan, the capital of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The Tigers were believed to have been poached in Leuser National Park, Aceh Province. In a separate event, two people were arrested in North Sumatra on 3 June for trading stuffed Sumatran Tiger cubs, also believed to have originated in Leuser.
Earlier this year, a TRAFFIC report identified Medan as a hub for the illegal sale of Tiger parts in Sumatra after surveys found body parts representing at least 23 Tigers on sale in 28 cities and towns across the island.
South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network to be established
Jaipur, India, May 2008—The eight member countries of the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) have pledged to work together to tackle illegal wildlife trade in the region.
In a Ministerial statement, known as the “Jaipur Declaration”, countries in the region have supported the development of a South Asia regional strategic plan on illegal wildlife trade and the establishment of a South Asia wildlife enforcement network (SAWEN). Countries also endorsed a South Asia regional strategic plan on illegal wildlife trade that will focus on key areas of work, including co-operation and co-ordination; effective legislation, policies and law enforcement; sharing knowledge and effective dissemination of information; intelligence networks and early warning systems; and capacity building.
Moscow, 30 May 2008—The Primorskii regional court has handed out stiff penalties on six men—three each from China and the Russian Federation—after they were found guilty of attempting to smuggle bear paws, Amur Tiger and other wildlife parts from the Russian Far East into China.
Their arrest, in August 2007, followed a six month operation by Customs and the Frontier Service in the Russian Far East Primorskii Province which uncovered the entire smuggling chain, from source to destination.
In total around 900 bear paws of Brown and Asiatic Black Bears, 4 Amur Tiger skins, more than 60 kg of Tiger bones and 531 Saiga horns were involved. TRAFFIC and WWF experts were asked for independent evaluations of the confiscated wildlife products, and estimated the commercial value to be more than USD200,000.
Vientiane, 28 May 2008—Members of ASEAN-WEN, the world's largest wildlife law enforcement network, gathered in Vientiane this week to map out the next steps to suppress the rampant wildlife crime in Southeast Asia, which is robbing the region of its rich biodiversity and natural resources.
The meeting brought together police, Customs and Environmental Officers from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam and hosts Lao PDR to review progress in implementing the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN). Delegates from the USA, New Zealand, Interpol and the CITES Secretariat also attended.
Bonn, Germany, 24 May 2008—Well-managed wildlife trade has the potential to deliver significant development benefits for the world’s poor, finds a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and WWF.
Trading Nature: the contribution of wildlife trade management to sustainable livelihoods and the Millennium Development Goals (PDF, 3.1 MB) shows that wildlife trade offers opportunities to the poor and benefits to local communities, but these are threatened when illegal or unsustainable trade is allowed to flourish.
The legal, international trade in wild plants and animals and the products derived from them was estimated as worth close to USD300 billion in 2005, based on declared import values—and the value is rising.
A former police officer and ringleader of a ginseng smuggling operation has been jailed for 4 years for his part in the illegal transportation of more than 3,000 Wild Ginseng roots from the Russian Federation to China.
The arrest came following two majors seziures of Wild Ginseng in August and October 2007 by the Russian Federation’s Far Eastern Operative Customs. A total of 29 kg of Wild Ginseng, comprising 3,142 roots, was recovered.
The verdict was handed out by Pogranichny District Court in Primorsky province of the Russian Federation on 15 May. An accomplice received a 2 year jail sentence.