INTERPOL Environmental Crime Unit: the stage is set to stem the wildlife crime tide

Criminal activity including wildlife trafficking has been identified by governments including the United States as a national security priority. Above: Seized ivory tusks at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise headquarters in Hong Kong, China, 08 August 2013. Image c. IFAW/Alex HoffordThe July 23rd, 2013 seizure of rhino horn in the Czech Republic en route to China is just one unfortunate example in the international much larger scope of wildlife trafficking problem.

We see again and again, wildlife poached in one country, transiting through several other countries before reaching its destination consumer country.

It is not just a Chad problem or a China problem. It is a global problem and all countries need to be part of the solution.

INTERPOL as the world’s largest international police organizations, with 190 member countries, is uniquely positioned to help dismantle the criminal networks profiting from wildlife crime.

WATCH: INTERPOL Operation WENDI helps dismantle ivory trafficking in Africa

However, this isn’t just a police matter. We have to remember governments invest in police resources based on public demand. For our program to continue and succeed, we need both public support and commitment from national governments around the world.

INTERPOL’s nascent environmental crime program is just three years old, having grown out of initial investments nearly ten years ago by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and other non-profit organizations whose supporters demanded help to save animals from wildlife trafficking.

It was this public support that made it clear; environmental crime needed to become part of INTERPOL’s core focus.

With all of our member countries having acknowledged the importance of environmental crime, it is critical that each country take steps to participate meaningful in halting its spread and reversing the tide:

  • Countries need to send executives and decision makers to INTERPOL’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee (ECEC) meeting in Nairobi, 4-8 November, where these leaders work with INTERPOL to develop integrated strategies to combatting environmental crime. To date, only 49 of the 190+ possible countries have registered to attend.
  • Countries must prioritize wildlife crime by setting up National Environmental Security Task Forces (NEST) to work with INTERPOL on enforcement
  • Each country must shut down its unregulated markets
  • People should be educated to reject wildlife products

The news reports of poaching and seizures can be discouraging at times, but it is important to remember that over the past decade, we have made tremendous progress in understanding and cracking down on environmental crime.

We have built the required strategy for the international cooperation of law enforcement agencies designed to make real impact on criminal networks.

Now, we need continued support from people like you and non-profit organizations like IFAW to ensure that country’s take the necessary actions to help INTERPOL stop wildlife trafficking.

We are grateful that IFAW is committed to letting people know when they can take specific action in their countries.

Your support of them and in turn, INTERPOL, will help save ever increasing numbers of wildlife from criminal trade.

--DH

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia