Saudi Arabia officials undergo training in detecting illegal wildlife

Display of confiscated samplesIn cooperation with the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has organized two DISRUPT trainings (Detecting Illegal Species Through Prevention Training) in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and in Abha, a city in the southwest of the country near the Yemeni border.  

The participants of the workshop in Riyadh were recruited from several national authorities (Customs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Interpol, Ministry of Agriculture, Capital City Municipality, CITES Management Authority, veterinary quarantine…), border guards from main check points along the Yemeni border, fisheries check points along the Red Sea, and officials from Jeddah University, veterinary quarantine and research centers participated in the workshop in Abha. 

Identification of species training using Canadian Guides The training included a number of topics, such as the CITES convention and its rules, CITES permits, common species in trade, species identification tools, smuggling techniques, inspection at the borders, and national legislation.

The training was a mix of presentations and interactive exercises, and participants expressed their interest in attending further training sessions organized by IFAW and SWA in all entry points (airports, marine ports and terrestrials).

The following facts triggered the need to organize trainings in the region:

  • The Arab Gulf Countries have been identified as transit countries for illegal wildlife trade like ivory moving from East Africa.
  • Lion and cheetah cubs in addition to other wildlife species are smuggled from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia and other Arabian Peninsula countries.
  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the largest country in this area and has a significant number of Sea ports, airports, and land border points.

Inspection trainingWe are encouraged to plan more trainings in the future, especially after Prince Bandar Bin Mohamed Al Soud of the Saudi Wildlife Authority said that “the coming three years will be very important for CITES implementation in KSA.”

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