By Guillaume Goudreau, Illicit Trade News Network
Interpol has gathered together scores of representatives from a number of sectors in Singapore for the 30th meeting of the agency’s Wildlife Crime Working Group.
Attended by some 160 experts from law enforcement agencies, representatives from government departments, NGOs, transport and banking firms, academics and social media companies, the conference provided delegates with an opportunity to review the latest environmental threats, trafficking trends and challenges to tackling the criminal networks behind such crimes.
The week-long event, which took place last month, examined how wildlife crime can involve industries beyond those which focus on the environment, with wildlife criminals using transport systems and online platforms to facilitate their activities.
The meeting brought together representatives from each of those sectors for the first time.
They provided other attendees with their perspectives on wildlife crime and spent time building relationships with law enforcement officials.
As well as hearing how wildlife crime has far-reaching consequences for the environment, global economies, communities and societies, delegates debated forestry crime, financial crimes associated with wildlife trafficking, challenges of transnational enforcement and operations, and wildlife crime training efforts.
In a statement, Interpol Assistant Director of Illicit Markets Daoming Zhang said: “We see animals and their parts trafficked using ships and airplanes, sold online via the Darknet and the illicit profits unknowingly passed through financial institutions.
“It is clear that the only way to truly eradicate these crimes and protect the world’s wildlife is through a united effort bringing together all stakeholders to develop multi-sector solutions.”
In a case study, attendees examined Operation Thunderball, a global operation coordinated by Interpol and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) that targeted wildlife traffickers.
The operation, which involved police and border officials from 109 countries, resulted in the recovery of 23 live primates, 30 big cats, 440 pieces of elephant tusk, five rhino horns and more than 4,300 birds.
Participants at the conference also elected a new Executive Board to guide the Working Group’s activities during the coming years.
Dylan Swain, the new Chair of the Wildlife Crime Working Group, commented: “To continue the momentum of recent years, we need to challenge the thinking about how we fight wildlife crime.
“The opportunity for enforcement agencies to come together with NGOs, civil society and academia enables us to share and develop new approaches to tackling the illegal trade in wildlife.”