Training to boost wildlife crime fighting capability in Western Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand, 3rd July 2012—A recently concluded two-day workshop at the Kuiburi National Park saw some 30 enforcement officers from surrounding provinces come together to learn about poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Thailand.
These include agencies from the Department of National Parks and Plant Conservation, Royal Thai Customs, Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division, Royal Thai Police, Army and the District Office.
The park is located in Thailand's Tenasserim Range, one of Southeast Asia’s most important Tiger conservation areas. Sharing a vast international border with Myanmar, this area is a hotspot for illegal hunting, as well as cross-border trade. Between January 2002 and June 2009, TRAFFIC discovered a total of 282 parts of Tigers, Leopards and Clouded Leopards for sale at markets and towns during covert investigations along this porous border.
Thailand’s geographic location at the centre of Southeast Asia - sharing an international border with four countries that similarly grapple with wildlife poaching and trade problems - makes it a conduit for the illegal trade from the southern reaches of South-East Asia, to Indochina and beyond.
This workshop, organized by TRAFFIC in co-ordination with Thailand’s Department of National Parks and Plant Conservation, aimed at providing the officers with useful tools, knowledge and materials to boost capacity to combat the illegal trade threatening Thailand’s wildlife.
Participants were introduced to illegal wildlife trade problems in Thailand, including commonly traded species. Examples of trade patterns and recent seizures were shared with participants. They in turn shared experiences and challenges from their work in a difficult landscape riddled with legal loopholes and resource shortcomings.
Issues pertaining to hunting of large-bodied ungulates, such as deer, wild cattle and Serow, which are essential prey species to Tigers and valued in trade as wild meat, were heavily discussed. Participants identified key threats and some potential solutions to this longstanding problem, which included further training on wildlife crime investigations and forensics, as well as increased efforts to raise awareness of wildlife hunting and wild meat consumption.
“Increased enforcement capacity, in parallel with heightened levels of awareness among local communities, is key to protecting Thailand’s threatened wildlife” said Chris Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “For species such as Tigers, and many of the prey species, time is running out.”
TRAFFIC aims to promote the adoption of formalized training standards and ultimately to institutionalize them with relevant agencies. In the last decade, TRAFFIC has trained over 2,500 personnel from enforcement agencies across the region and provided expertise and tools to address illegal wildlife trade issues.
This programme was funded by the USFWS and organized with support from the Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.