For use of the media
not an official document.
Governments join forces through CITES to catch wildlife criminals
| See also ...
The Hague, 7 June 2007 - Recent successes in strengthening international
cooperation on enforcing wildlife laws will feature prominently
at the talks here on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
For example, responding to a call by the Prime Minister of Thailand
for the formation of a 'Wildlife Interpol', Asian governments created
the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) in December 2005.
ASEAN-WEN has gone on to build greater collaboration and coordination
between member countries, both at the operational and strategic
More recently a CITES Enforcement Task Force met in the United
Arab Emirates to discuss the smuggling of falcons. It produced an
identification guide to help customs and other law enforcement agencies
target criminals who remove falcons from the wild, smuggle them
across borders and then sell them illegally for falconry.
Another Enforcement Task Force has met in Kenya at the headquarters
of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to examine the
illegal trade in great apes. Its efforts are being complemented
by the Great Ape Task Force, which has produced awareness-raising
posters and leaflets to alert border control and police agencies
to criminal activities that threaten these species.
This month's CITES conference will also consider how improved information
sharing amongst Governments has significantly advanced the struggle
against wildlife criminals. For example, last year customs in Hong
Kong S.A.R., China seized a container containing a large quantity
of illegal ivory. Information about the case was rapidly exchanged
with international law enforcement organizations and with African
governments. This enabled the Cameroon authorities to seize a further
two containers that had also been adapted for smuggling ivory. Arrest
warrants have been issued for those involved.
Working closely with Interpol, the World Customs Organization,
regional wildlife law enforcement groups and other UN bodies, the
CITES Secretariat continues to assist countries around the world
with their enforcement efforts, including through an alert system
that provides regular intelligence and risk-assessment advice. Over
the past two years, alerts have been issued on bear bile, caviar,
crocodile skins, invalid CITES documents, ivory, sea turtle shells
and the abuse of diplomatic immunity. The Secretariat has also conducted
in-country work on the illegal trade in ivory, orangutans and tigers.
Delegates in The Hague will be informed of the recommendations and
lessons learned from these various activities.
Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary-General of CITES, said, "The
wildlife law enforcement successes achieved over the past several
years show what can be achieved when the international community
works together. I am delighted that enforcement will receive such
a high profile in The Hague and that it will feature in the Ministerial
session. Recent advances must not make us complacent, however -
we need to allocate a much higher priority to bringing wildlife
criminals to justice."
Note to journalists: The CITES Secretariat is organizing
a 12h30 press briefing today in the South America room with John
M. Sellar, Senior Officer, Anti-smuggling, Fraud and Organized Crime,
CITES Secretariat; Benito Perez, Acting Chief, Division of Law Enforcement,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Captain Aroon Promphan, Natural
Resources and Environment Crime Division, Royal Thai Police; and
Peter Younger, Wildlife Crime Programme Officer, Interpol.
read previous press releases, go to Archives.