Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Thai wildlife task force to combat illegal trade

ThaiDay - 8/28/2006

The Royal Thai Police's first training course for a special task force it has established as part of intensifying efforts by regional law enforcement officials to combat the illegal wildlife trade, will end tomorrow.

The course is being attended by officers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division and is the latest activity by the new ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), which says it signals Thailand's increased commitment to tackling the illegal trafficking of wildlife worth billions of dollars a year.

Subjects covered during the course include surveillance, interrogation and investigation techniques, wildlife identification and care, and wildlife conservation laws.

The officers have also learned about links between the illegal wildlife trade and other illicit activities such as drug smuggling.

Thailand is playing a leading role in ASEAN-WEN which is a multi-country initiative designed to protect Asia's wildlife by facilitating cross-border cooperation and the exchange of vital intelligence about wildlife criminals.

By gathering together police officers, customs officials, prosecutors and environmental officials, the course reflects ASEAN-WEN's spirit of inter-agency cooperation. Officials from the Philippines National Anti-Environment Crime Task Force and National Bureau of Investigation, who are planning to hold similar training in the future, have attended the course as observers.

The United States Agency for International Development provided support for the course through a cooperative partnership with WildAid and TRAFFIC.

WildAid developed the course curriculum with contributions from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the international police organization, Interpol, and Thailand's Office of the Attorney General. Since 2000, WildAid, an international conservation organization with offices in Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Galapagos, Washington and Vladivostok, has facilitated training for more than 1,300 environmental protection personnel throughout Southeast Asia.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint program of the World Wildlife Foundation and the World Conservation Union.


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