An­nual En­vi­ron­men­tal En­force­ment Awards

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - ENVIRONMENT - BY MEENA S. JA­NARD­HAN

Nine in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als from across Asia have been rec­og­nized by the United Na­tions, USAID, In­ter­pol, and the Free­land Foun­da­tion for out­stand­ing work in pre­vent­ing trans­bound­ary en­vi­ron­men­tal crime in an an­nual award cer­e­mony in Bangkok.

WILDLIFE TRAFiCKING WAS IN THE spot­light as win­ners from China, In­dia, the Re­pub­lic of Ko­rea, , Malaysia, Nepal, Thai­land and Viet Nam ac­cepted awards for dis­rupt­ing in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal net­works that have laid waste to wildlife across mul­ti­ple con­ti­nents.

En­vi­ron­men­tal crimes, which in­clude il­le­gal trade in wildlife, il­licit trade in forests and forestry prod­ucts, il­le­gal dump­ing of waste in­clud­ing chem­i­cals, smug­gling of ozone de­plet­ing sub­stances and il­le­gal min­ing, comes at a hefty cost - es­ti­mated at up to $258 bil­lion per year. It is now the fourth largest il­le­gal crime af­ter drug smug­gling, coun­ter­feit­ing AND HU­MAN TRAFiCKING.

AWARD WIN­NERS 1. CAT­E­GORY: IN­TEGRITY

o Ms. Le Thi Hang, Judge at Khanh Hoa Peo­ple’s Court, Nha Trang, Viet Nam. Ms. Hang is a judge who showed ex­cep­tional de­ter­mi­na­tion to bring jus­tice to one of the most se­ri­ous wildlife crime cases Viet Nam has seen. The case be­gan in 2014 when more than 7,000 dead sea tur­tles were dis­cov­ered, fully or par­tially TAXIDERMIZED, STACKED FROM lOOR to ceil­ing at sev­eral ware­houses near Nha Trang city.

* Pil­lar 4 Cen­tral In­ves­ti­ga­tion Bu­reau, Nepal Po­lice. De­spite be­ing a small team with lim­ited re­sources, Pil­lar 4 was able to dis­man­tle an in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal net­work smug­gling wildlife species, in­clud­ing black chim­panzees and ex­otic birds from as far away as NIGE­RIA. BY IN­VES­TI­GAT­ING THE iRST ever case in the coun­try reg­is­tered as “or­ga­nized crime” re­lated to the il­le­gal wildlife trade, they ap­pre­hended nine mem­bers of an in­ter­na­tional net­work, which IN­CLUDED GOV­ERN­MENT OFi­CIALS FROM their own coun­try.

* Spe­cial Com­men­da­tion: Wichien Chin­na­wong, Thungyai Nare­suan Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary Chief, Thai­land. In Fe­bru­ary 2018, a small team of rangers led by Mr. Chin­na­wong en­coun­tered a group of hun­ters camp­ing in a fa­mous wildlife sanc­tu­ary and eat­ing highly en­dan­gered an­i­mals. He ap­pre­hended all sus­pect poach­ers and pressed charges against them, in­clud­ing a charge for at­tempted bribery. While the trial will de­ter­mine the ex­act re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the al­leged poach­ers, the de­ter­mi­na­tion and the in­tegrity of Mr. Chin­na­wong and his team re­main undis­putable facts.

2. CAT­E­GORY: IM­PACT

* Thai­land Team, com­posed of the Thai Cus­toms, the Royal Thai Po­lice, and the De­part­ment of Na­tional Parks, Wildlife and Plant Con­ser­va­tion. In May 2018 the Sa­mut Prakan Court in Thai­land sen­tenced a no­to­ri­ous WILDLIFE TRAFiCKER TO 2.5 YEARS IN jail. This con­vic­tion was the re­sult of a com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tion that saw a strong col­lab­o­ra­tion among dif­fer­ent au­thor­i­ties in Thai­land.

* Wang Wei, Direc­tor of In­ves­ti­ga­tion II of Anti-Smug­gling Bu­reau of Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China Cus­toms. Wei played an in­stru­men­tal role in China’s Na­tional Sword en­force­ment cam­paign in the Anti-Smug­gling Bu­reau of Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China Cus­toms to im­ple­ment China’s new waste im­port con­trols. The Na­tional Sword pol­icy has changed the land­scape of waste trade in Asia and is now be­ing repli­cated in other coun­tries.

3. CAT­E­GORY: IN­NO­VA­TION

* Team of the In­ves­ti­ga­tion and Sup­pres­sion Di­vi­sion III of the Royal Thai Cus­toms, un­der the Direc­tor Mr. Decha Wichaidit. The Thai Cus­toms team adopted in­no­va­tive RISK PROiL­ING TECH­NIQUES TO IDEN­TIFY wildlife smug­glers trav­el­ling to Thai­land and South­east Asia. Through the de­vel­op­ment of an ad­vanced risk man­age­ment sys­tem, Thai Cus­toms has been able to de­tect wildlife smug­gling pat­terns for pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling from Africa to South­east Asia. Their gen­eros­ity in shar­ing tac­ti­cal in­tel­li­gence with Cus­toms Au­thor­i­ties from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries re­sulted in THE CONiSCATION OF RHINO HORNS AND the ar­rest of couri­ers in Sin­ga­pore AND - FOR THE iRST TIME EVER - IN LAO PDR in Sep­tem­ber and Oc­to­ber 2017.

* In­ter­na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Di­vi­sion, Ko­rea Cus­toms Ser­vice. Ko­rea Cus­toms de­signed a spe­cial EN­FORCE­MENT STRAT­EGY TO iGHT IL­LE­GAL cross-bor­der en­vi­ron­men­tal crimes and es­tab­lished the en­vi­ron­ment en­force­ment team ex­clu­sively des­ig­nated to tackle var­i­ous types of cross-bor­der en­vi­ron­men­tal crimes such as il­le­gal trade in con­trolled sub­stances and pro­tected wildlife species.

* Wildlife Crime Con­trol Bu­reau, Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, For­est and Cli­mate Change, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia. The Bu­reau (WCCB) has adopted in­no­va­tive en­force­ment TECH­NIQUES THAT HAVE DRA­MAT­I­CALLY in­creased en­force­ment of trans­bound­ary en­vi­ron­men­tal crimes in In­dia. No­tably, it has de­vel­oped an on­line Wildlife Crime Data­base Man­age­ment Sys­tem to re­trieve real-time data to help an­a­lyze trends and de­vise ef­fec­tive mea­sures to pre­vent and de­tect wildlife crime across In­dia. In or­der to in­volve the pub­lic in the iGHT AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME, WCCB has also de­vel­oped a scheme to en­roll will­ing per­sons as WCCB Vol­un­teers.

4. CAT­E­GORY: COL­LAB­O­RA­TION

* Joil bin Bom­bon, for­mer Dept. of Wildlife and Na­tional Parks Penin­su­lar Malaysia and R.S. Sharath, for­mer Wildlife Crime Con­trol Bu­reau, In­dia. They be­gan an in­tense ex­change of in­for­ma­tion on cases of mu­tual in­ter­est. This CO­OP­ER­A­TION IN­TEN­SI­iED OVER TIME un­til turn­ing into co­or­di­nated sur­veil­lance ef­forts and joint law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion. The close co­op­er­a­tion re­sulted in the ar­rest of four ma­jor tur­tle TRAFiCKERS IN 2017 AND 2018 AND an un­prece­dented dis­rup­tion of the il­le­gal trade in tur­tles be­tween In­dia and Malaysia. Their ef­forts led also to the ar­rest of 35 peo­ple in­volved in the il­le­gal trade.

Pic­ture: Alaister Rus­sell

Mem­bers of the San Parks track­ing team close in on sus­pected Rhino poach­ers dur­ing a sim­u­la­tion of their ef­forts to con­trol cross boarder poach­ing. The South African team works hand in hand with a Mozam­bi­can team called Dyck Ad­vi­sory Group (DAG).

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