Presentation on Work in the Field Serves as Grim Wildlife Trade Reminder
I have recently returned from this year’s Annual Wildlife Crime Enforcers’ Conference and can honestly say it was inspiring to meet so many wildlife crime officers who also often carry out vitally important work in their own time because of their impressive commitment to protecting Britain’s wildlife. The annual conference provides a platform to thank officers for their dedication and at the same time it gives the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with police.
What we bring to this event is first-hand experience of the challenges of protecting wildlife on the ground around the world, not only in the UK. This year Vivek Menon, IFAW’s Regional Director for South Asia and the Director of the Wildlife Trust of India, gave a presentation on our work in the field. His talk was motivational as it reminded all of us in the UK that the ivory trinkets we see here along with the rising trade in rhino horn and the use of tiger body parts in traditional Asian medicines comes from intelligent, large, charismatic wild animals.
Wildlife crime is second only to the trade in drugs and arms and often has real human costs with rangers losing their lives as they work to protect elephants, rhinos and tigers for future generations. Vivek was able to tell law enforcers working in England, Wales and Scotland about how IFAW trains and equips rangers working in India and Africa. He spoke from personal experience of the ivory trade as he has gone undercover to better understand and expose it. But most importantly Vivek could show us the true horror of the trade in wildlife products.
The picture of an elephant still standing with its face hacked off made me sick to my stomach and is still haunting me now. Later in the conference I was reminded of the cruelty inherent in wildlife crimes on the home front when I saw terrible footage and photos of people setting dogs on wild animals for so called ‘sport’. Although I have seen dogs tearing at animals while they are still alive and terrified time and again I always feel so sad, shocked and revolted that some people want to be cruel for fun.
I can’t get those images out of my head but I am so grateful that we have wildlife crime officers working to catch people trading in ivory, rhino and tiger products as well as taking action against people who set dogs on Britain’s wildlife. I would like to say a big thank you from all of us at the conference to Vivek for inspiring us to continue our hard work. -- TMC