For use of the media only;
not an official document.
Tiger Enforcement Task Force to
target criminal networks
Geneva/New Delhi, 30 March 2001 - The first meeting of the CITES
Tiger Enforcement Task Force will be in held in New Delhi next week
from 2 to 4 April. The Task Force will include experts and officials
from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, and Nepal - all important
tiger range states - as well as from Canada and the Netherlands,
which are consumer countries.
The meeting will address strengthening the profile of wildlife crime
enforcement; specialized wildlife enforcement units and anti-poaching
work; the judiciary and prosecution authorities; inter-agency, cross-border
and international cooperation; and liaison with Interpol and the
World Customs Organization. Progress on these broad issues would
also be of great benefit to other vulnerable plant and animal species
The Task Force meeting will be followed a national workshop on 5
April that will feature discussions between the Task Force members
and Chief Wildlife Wardens from across India about recent poaching
and illegal trade incidents. These activities of wildlife criminals
cause the death and injury of national enforcement officers every
"The CITES Tiger Enforcement Task Force is a vital initiative
for saving the tiger from extinction," said Willem Wijnstekers,
Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. "By bringing together tiger
and law enforcement experts from around the world, we aim to give
tiger protection the technical support it so badly needs."
is particularly appropriate that India, the country where the largest
number of tigers are still to be found, has offered to host this
first meeting of the Task Force," he said.
In 1999, a CITES Tiger Missions Technical Team of law enforcement
and wildlife trade experts visited 14 tiger range and consumer States
in North America, Europe and Asia. The Team's report was subsequently
accepted in full by the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties
to CITES in April 2000. One of the team's primary recommendations
was the creation of a Tiger Enforcement Task Force to help countries
tackle the illegal killing of tigers and illegal trade in their
parts and derivatives.
The Technical Team also urged increased training for officials in
Asia tasked with protecting the tiger and its habitat and with combating
illegal trade in its parts and derivatives. As a follow-up to this
recommendation, an official from the CITES secretariat will meet
the Joint Director of India's National Police Academy in Hyderabad
on 30 March 2001, just before the Task Force meeting, to discuss
the possibility of the Academy helping to train operational enforcement
The 1999 report confirmed strong evidence that the Indian tiger
population is being heavily poached by organized wildlife crime
networks. Because India still boasts the world's largest tiger population,
this poaching poses a serious threat to the species' survival in
the wild. Increased anti-poaching efforts are essential.
From a population of over 100,000 in the 19th century, the Earth's
wild tiger population has plummeted to an estimated 5,000 to 7,000
individuals. Tigers range from India and Russia to China and Southeast
Asia, but with several sub-species thought to be already extinct,
the species' long-term survival is now at stake.
Tiger hunting is now illegal everywhere, and international trade
in tigers and tiger products is completely banned under CITES. Nevertheless,
habitat destruction continues at a rapid pace, live tigers enter
the illegal exotic pet trade, tiger skins are bought and sold, and
tiger parts are sought for presumed health benefits.
Note to journalists: The Technical Team report is posted
at www.cites.org; go to CITES documents, then Standing Committee,
42nd Meeting, Doc. SC42.10.4. For further information, please
contact Michael Williams in Geneva at +41 (22) 917 82 42
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