Asia unites against poaching
Kathmandu, Nepal 6th February 2015—Representatives from 13 Asian countries committed to comprehensive action to stamp out poaching at the conclusion of a four-day symposium hosted by the Government of Nepal.
The Symposium Towards Zero Poaching in Asia adopted five recommendations:
• Swift and decisive action to elevate the importance and effectiveness of anti-poaching initiatives and co-operation among all relevant ministries, departments and agencies within their borders, while at the same time strengthening international cooperation in the face of this serious criminal activity;
• Adoption of the Zero Poaching Tool Kit and assessment of current anti-poaching responses to determine improvements and close serious gaps;
• Increase and improve collaboration as a successful anti-poaching response is critically dependant on effectively engaging a diverse number of law enforcement agencies, including efforts to break trafficking syndicates and combat organized crime;
• Improve standards, training and support for rangers, other frontline staff, police and prosecutors to promote best practices from landscape-based protection up to effective case preparation for offenders.
• Commit to identifying a Zero Poaching national contact point to co-ordinate transboundary efforts to stop poaching effectively.
Nepal’s hosting of this landmark event was significant for the country’s efforts to stamp out poaching and associated illegal activity threatening its natural wealth – including tigers, rhinos and elephants.
“We cannot allow wildlife crime to continue to wrap its tentacles deeper into the region. Our individual efforts may win us a few battles, but we can only win the war only if Asia presents a united front to stop the poaching, end the trafficking and wipe out demand,” said Mr Tika Ram Adhikari, Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
Nepal’s efforts have set a high standard for other countries to emulate, having achieved ‘zero poaching’ of its ‘big three’ – rhinos, tigers and elephants – in two of the past four years. Representatives from local Nepalese communities, protected area teams as well as law enforcement agencies shared their lessons learned at the symposium.
The value of intelligence-led investigations was made very clear by many presentations from law enforcement agencies – both national and inter-governmental perspectives. A key example of this was the recent apprehension last week in Malaysia of a notorious Nepali rhino poacher and smuggler as a result of collaboration between investigators in both Nepal and Malaysia, working with INTERPOL.
“Stopping poaching and illegal trade is a complex exercise involving work to break trafficking chains and address persistent consumer demand,” said James Compton, TRAFFIC’s Senior Director for Asia. “Effective exchange of relevant information between government agencies and their partners has been proven to break trafficking syndicates – and help prevent poaching from happening in the first place.”
Representatives from the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) emphasised the need for collaboration between inter-governmental agencies with national partners. This included inviting countries to engage with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, and the roll-out of national assessments under the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit.
At the closing ceremony, Nepal’s legendary Chitwan National Park also became the first global site to be accredited as Conservation Assured Tiger Standard (CA|TS).Despite the threats that the Chitwan landscape faces, the protected area has seen an increasingly effective management and protection regime, which is a bedrock of Nepal’s efforts towards zero poaching.
“This is the beginning of the end for poaching across Asia,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. “WWF is proud to have supported this landmark meeting and is committed to be part of the new determined movement for Zero Poaching in Asia, launched this week in Kathmandu.”
Thirteen Asian countries participated in the symposium: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Partner organizations included CITES, INTERPOL, UNODC, IUCN, TRAFFIC, US Department of Justice, SMART Partnership and Southern African Wildlife College.
WWF co-hosted the symposium with Global Tiger Forum, National Trust for Nature Conservation and the South Asian Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).
CA|TS Conservation Assured Tigers Standards – excellence in tiger site conservation & protection. Developed by the Global Tiger Forum (GTF), WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, IUCN and WCPA, CA|TS consists of 17 standards by which all Tiger sites can be managed and measured. Sites taking part will initially be ‘registered’ (standards not yet attained) then, when all required standards are met, ‘approved’ (standards achieved). Sites are evaluated through an assessment and independent review process.
ICCWC – the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, brings together the expertise and mandates of the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, UNODC, World Bank and the World Customs Organization. The mission of ICCWC is to usher in a new era where perpetrators of serious wildlife and forest crime will face a formidable and co-ordinated response, rather than the present situation where the risk of detection and punishment is all too low.