Saving wild tigers through law enforcement investigations and field operations
I am here at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok observing firsthand the training of law enforcement personnel across seven Southeast Asian countries (Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and China) to improve their skills in investigative and operational planning for combating big cat related crimes in Southeast Asia. This is the second of two integrated training and operational planning meetings in Asia led by INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme. The first was held last week in New Delhi, India. Participants to the training include representation from police, customs, CITES, forestry administration and wildlife.
The training is being held under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Project PREDATOR, focused on supporting regional efforts for the conservation of wild tigers and other Asian big cats. Given the bleak and perilous conditions for wild tigers (an estimated 3,200 left in the wild), it’s absolutely critical that officers on the frontline be equipped with the latest global tools in investigative techniques, including intelligence and information management needed to effectively investigate and prosecute tiger related crimes.
Day one began with remarks by representatives from INTERPOL, NCB Bangkok, ILEA, ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (Program Coordinating Unit) and USAID, followed by an NGO panel on enforcement priorities in addressing big cat related crimes in Southeast Asia featuring, IFAW, Environmental Investigation Agency, CITES, FREELAND Foundation and TRAFFIC.
As a committed partner under INTERPOL’s Project PREDATOR and, a major supporter of other initiatives across tiger range countries to protect wild tigers, IFAW is well aware of the role of Southeast Asia as a major source, transit and destination for endangered big cat products and the need for greater coordination and collaboration between intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
To be effective, law enforcers need to be provided with the requisite skills for investigating and prosecuting wildlife crime. This will need to go hand in hand with an enabling environment that allows for an action oriented approach and enhance cohesion between countries, for improved wildlife law enforcement. I believe that IFAW and its partner INTERPOL are up to the challenge to make this happen.