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Friday
Sep142007

China hosts ASEAN to close net on wildlife crime

1467551-1065989-thumbnail.jpg
ASEAN-WEN is an intergovernmental initiative bringing ASEAN governments together to combat wildlife crime © James Compton / TRAFFIC Click to enlarge.  
Guanzhou, China, 14 September 2007—China has wrapped up an historic five-day exchange with law enforcement officers from five ASEAN countries to address one of the region’s major crime issues jointly.

The China-ASEAN Wildlife Law Enforcement Co-operation exchange in Guangzhou and Shenzhen aimed to strengthen regional co-operation in the fight against wildlife crime.

Eight officials representing police, Customs and environmental agencies from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines joined Chinese counterparts to address the issue of cross border illegal wildlife trade.

China is a major consumer of Southeast Asia’s wild animals and plants and has vowed to co-operate with its ASEAN neighbours to help reduce the illegal trade, which has global connections to other major consumer markets in the EU and North America.

The exchange is the first time ASEAN officials representing the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) have been invited to China to engage directly with their Chinese counterparts to discuss strategies for addressing what has become one of the world’s most profitable forms of black market trade.

In Huangpu, China opened up its highly secure confiscations warehouse to the visiting officials, displaying wildlife seizures that included several tons of ivory, snake skins and many other wildlife parts. ASEAN representatives were also taken to a market in Shenzhen, where Chinese officials are monitoring possible sales in protected wildlife.

“We want to be open and honest about what’s going on here,” Wan Ziming, Director of the Enforcement and Training Division of China’s State Forestry Administration

“Everyone is blaming China for consuming Southeast Asia’s wildlife and wants China to solve the problem. The fact is, we are trying but we can’t do this alone. We need to work together with other countries, with ASEAN-WEN, to stop the illegal trade,” said Wan Ziming, Director of the Enforcement and Training Division of China’s State Forestry Administration.

China’s desire for further engagement with ASEAN-WEN in order to protect biodiversity was welcomed by international conservationists.

“China’s openness gives us hope that more meaningful cross border enforcement co-operation in Asia may be on the horizon,” said Steven Galster, Director of Operations for Wildlife Alliance in Thailand.

“This meeting is very timely with the release of TRAFFIC’s publication on the State of wildlife trade in China, which shows that China has been taking steps to reduce illegal trade,” said Dr Xu Hongfa, TRAFFIC’s China Program Director.

“These exchanges should be conducted regularly to ensure collaborative efforts between ASEAN and China continue, and to encourage the exchange of timely and accurate information on wildlife crime.”

The exchange was supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), through the ASEAN-WEN Support Program. Like China, the USA is a major consumer of wildlife and has vowed to support global efforts to reduce illegal wildlife trade. ASEAN-WEN representatives will visit the USA for wildlife forensics training next year.

Notes for editors
ASEAN-WEN

The ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network was officially launched in December 2005, at a ministerial-level meeting held in Bangkok. It includes CITES Authorities, Customs and Police working together to broaden inter-agency co-operation against wildlife crime. Cooperative agencies in ASEAN-WEN include: Interpol, World Customs Organisation, the CITES Secretariat, and the ASEAN Secretariat.

ASEAN-WEN Support Program
ASEAN-WEN is an intergovernmental initiative bringing ASEAN governments together to combat wildlife crime. Wildlife Alliance and TRAFFIC, via a cooperative partnership with USAID, are providing technical assistance to government agencies that are implementing ASEAN-WEN.

Illegal wildlife trade in Asia
Asia is a global hotspot for illegal poaching, wildlife trafficking and endangered species consumption. This concentration derives from several factors including: regionally high biodiversity; well-established transportation links and smuggling routes; nominal allocations of local and international government resources to the issues; and low public awareness of regional conservation and sustainability needs. TRAFFIC's report The State of Wildlife Trade in China 2006 (PDF, 1.8 MB).

For more information and photos:
Azrina Abdullah, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, ASEAN-WEN Support Program. Tel: +66-(0)2-662-4029, email: azrina@iucnt.org

Tassanee Vejpongsa, Communication Officer, PeunPa Foundation Thailand (a member of Wildlife Alliance). Tel: +6681 9399433, email : Tassanee@peunpa.org

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