China Customs and IFAW Joined Hands to Combat Wildlife Trafficking
A workshop jointly organized by the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of China’s General Administration of Customs and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW, www.ifaw.org), to combat trafficking of endangered species successfully concluded today. Over 30 front-line Customs officers from across the country attended the 3-day capacity building workshop, where they shared techniques and skills to detect and prevent wildlife trafficking.
Poaching of wildlife to supply the illegal trade in their parts and derivatives, has reached epidemic levels in recent years. Huge profits in commercial exploitation of wildlife have attracted criminal organizations to the transnational and transcontinental trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products, using the same methods and routes as the trafficking of weapons and drugs. From wildlife poaching to smuggling to supplying the market, illegal wildlife trade poses increasing threats to bio-diversity, economic growth, regional stability and national security.
“The Asia region, while rich in biodiversity, unfortunately also hosts some of the world’s largest consumer markets for wildlife and wildlife products. The demand for wildlife such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger bones in Asia is threating the survival of these species.” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW. “As the world’s second largest economy and a key consumer country for wildlife species, China has a special responsibility to control its borders to prevent wildlife smuggling”.
China Customs have thwarted many ivory smuggling operations in recent years. In 2012, China’s Customs mobilized enforcement agencies around the country to carry out a series of anti-smuggling crackdowns under Operation National Shied, resulting in the confiscation of 236 tonnes of wildlife contraband. More recently, the investigation by Customs resulted in the conviction of a major ivory seller in Fujian and his accomplices for their role in an international ivory trafficking scheme that smuggled nearly eight tonnes of ivory from Africa.
“Despite our successes, the challenges we face are huge. The involvement of organized criminal syndicates in wildlife trafficking and the proliferation of online marketplaces and modern transport methods means that we have to constantly improve our skills and capacity to fight wildlife crime.” said Guan Xiangying of China Customs.
During the workshop, law enforcement experts from China and abroad shared experiences and techniques in investigation, evidence collection, case analysis and online monitoring and detection.
At the end of the workshop, participants visited IFAW’s Beijing Raptor Rescue Center (BRRC) on the campus of Beijing Normal University. BRRC is the first and the only raptor rescue and rehabilitation facility in mainland China adhering to international animal welfare standards.
“Many of the raptor patients at BRRC are victims of illegal wildlife trade”, said Gabriel. “Having BRRC as an option for birds of prey caught in illegal trade, gives law enforcement officers the peace of mind knowing that the raptors they confiscate can receive the highest standards of care. Many of these animals, properly rehabilitated may still have a change to return to the wild and contribute to biodiversity.”
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.