Published 20 June 2017

Enforcement officials in China trained on wildlife identification technology

Nanjing, China, June 2017—34 law enforcement officials from nine separate provinces attended a wildlife forensics technology training workshop at Nanjing Forest Police College (NFPC). Represented institutions included the Forest Police, Custom’s Anti-smuggling Bureau and the Environmental Police.

The NFPC is a nationally renowned training centre for wildlife enforcement officials. The workshop marked the fourth TRAFFIC training session to have taken place in collaboration with the institution. 

Much of the training was focused on wildlife identification methods, covering areas such as sample requirements for DNA testing, species identification techniques for wild animals and plants, identification of common wildlife products and rapid identification photography. 

Leading the training were species identification experts from the National Forest Police Identification Centre (NFPIC), who identify confiscated wildlife products on a daily basis. Their accumulated knowledge has the potential to significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of wildlife identification by enforcement officials.

One trainee said: “This training greatly improved the connection between criminal investigation and species identification, which will improve the work of our enforcement department on wildlife crimes. I will relay the techniques I have learnt to my colleagues in Ningxia province.”   

In 2016, TRAFFIC co-established an online reference platform with the NFPIC to enable enforcement officials to study ways of photographing identifiable features of confiscated wildlife products. By doing so accurately, experts can later use such photos to confirm which species are present.

Another species identification tool now used by enforcement officials across China is the “QQ” social media group, also established by TRAFFIC and the NFPIC . It allows enforcement agencies to refer and collaborate with other users to help them quickly identify confiscated wildlife products. Advice and recommendations from various experts within the group allows for investigative work to proceed more quickly and efficiently. 

“Wildlife crimes can occur anywhere in China, but are particularly frequent at southwest and northwest borders of the country given their rich biodiversity,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office. “It is impossible for experts to travel all over China to identify confiscated wildlife products as they appear. Training sessions and tools such as these are an extremely effective way of increasing enforcement efficiency to combat wildlife crimes in China”.

This training was generously supported by WWF UK and co-hosted by TRAFFIC and Nanjing Forest Police College.