Interpol gathers experts in Singapore for conference on wildlife crime
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.”
Chinese medicine could bring about destruction of half the world’s donkeys, new report reveals
A new report from UK-based animal welfare charity the Donkey Sanctuary has revealed that more than half of the world’s donkey population could be wiped out over the five years due to the animal’s body parts being used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Noting that Donkey populations are being decimated in multiple countries across Africa, South America and Asia, the report claims that millions of donkeys are being slaughtered by wildlife traffickers who sell their skins.
Illicit wildlife traders even target pregnant mares, foals and sick donkeys, which are stolen before being transported and killed.
Warning that the species is now “in a state of global crisis”, and that the supply of donkey skins cannot meet demand in China, the Donkey Sanctuary has called for an urgent halt to the largely unregulated global trade in donkey skins before donkey populations are completely annihilated in some parts of the world.
The gelatine in donkey hides is a key ingredient in ejiao, which has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years by those who believe it improves blood circulation and can be used to treat conditions such as anaemia, despite there being no clinical evidence to support this.
Over recent years, ejiao has become popular with China’s burgeoning middle class, and is increasingly seen as a wellness product that is added to all manner of products including face creams, sweets and liqueurs.
Numerous claims are made about the benefits of consuming ejiao, with proponents suggesting it can boost libido, aid sleep, prevent cancer and make people look younger.
No evidence exists to support any of these claims.
According to the Donkey Sanctuary, China needs some 4.8 million donkey hides a year for domestic ejiao production, which is driving traffickers in Africa, Asia and South America to source and sell skins to Chinese traders.
As well as seriously threatening donkey numbers in a number of countries, the illicit trade in the animal’s body parts increases the risk of the spread of dangerous diseases such as anthrax and equine diseases due to unhygienic practices during transport and slaughter.
Commenting on the findings of the charity’s report, Mike Baker, Chief Executive of the Donkey Sanctuary, said: “This is suffering on an enormous and unacceptable scale. This suffering is not just confined to donkeys as it also threatens the livelihood of millions of people.
“The skin trade is the biggest threat to donkey welfare we have ever seen. Urgent action needs to be taken.”
UK Labour party promises extra action against wildlife crime
Britain’s Labour party has promised UK voters that it will do more to tackle wildlife crimes such as fox hunting, hare coursing and badger baiting if it wins the country’s upcoming general election next month.
In a statement, the party said it would spend an extra £4.5 million ($5.28 million) on recruiting an additional 82 police officers to focus exclusively on bringing wildlife criminals to justice.
If the party is elected into power on 12 December, the extra officers will work in cooperation with regional organised crime units and help tackle animal welfare incidents taking place in rural areas, working to prevent livestock theft and dog fighting, which are often linked to serious organised criminality.
The party said its commitment to boost the number of dedicated wildlife crime officers in the UK will help enforce new offences and stricter rules it palms to introduce, as well as enable more effective actions against existing crime.
Assuming a Labour election win next month, the party will take a number of steps to improve animal welfare, including the closure of loopholes in the 2004 Hunting Act that allow in practice the continuation of illegal hunting of foxes, deer and hares, and consultation on the introduction of custodial sentences for illegal hunting, bringing it in line with the penalties for other wildlife crimes.
Commenting ahead of the announcement of the additional funding for the extra wildlife crime officers, Labour’s environment spokesperson Sue Hayman said: “Labour’s animal welfare manifesto is the most radical animal welfare plan anywhere in the world.
“While the Tories continue with their mass slaughter of badgers and flip flop on bringing back fox hunting, Labour is determined to bring animal welfare policy into the 21st Century, based on the latest science and understanding.
“We are calling time on those who have been allowed to get away with illegally hunting, maiming and killing wild animals such as deer, hen harriers, foxes and hares.
“By increasing the number of wildlife and rural police forces across the country we will help protect both wild animals and property in rural communities, and ensure a crackdown on the types of crimes against animals that this Tory government has turned a blind eye to.”
In September, International Wildlife Minister Zac Goldsmith announced that the Conservative government would issue a consultation for what would be the toughest hunting trophy import laws in the world.
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9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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