EIA project: Combating the Asian big cat trade 2011 –

Posted on Apr 15, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off on EIA project: Combating the Asian big cat trade 2011 –

Debbie Banks gives an update on EIA’s work on a new film to help combat the Asian big cat trade…

I love reading Debbie Martyr’s blog posts from Kerinci, she always has the most exciting and colourful dramas to report. So when your project is largely desk-based, it’s a tad difficult to compete; the office politics in our Islington HQ are hardly a patch on the gritty field realities of Deb’s team.

Our project with 21st Century Tiger falls under the India portfolio, since most of EIA’s historical work has looked at the fate of India’s (and Nepal’s) tigers and other Asian big cats as they are trafficked into markets in China (that’s where our dramas take place and you can check them out here).


In 2005 and 2006, at the height of the skin trade, EIA liaised with our friends at the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), CITES and with officers in India, Nepal and China to produce an awareness film, targeted specifically at enforcement officers in the region, showing them how organised the trade had become and how a more sophisticated response could better combat it.


It’s time to update that film; the markets have changed and there is more we can say on intelligence-led enforcement tactics and multi-agency cooperation. So we’ve started with an overhaul of the content of the old film, sifting through what is still relevant and narrowing down what we need in the way of new content.


That content includes interviews with those engaged in combating the trade, and we’ve just come back from India where we picked up some interviews with members of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, which didn’t exist at the time of the 2006 version.


We’ve also updated information on the modus operandi of the organised poaching gangs in India through an interview with one of WPSI’s leading field investigators, Nitin Desai, who has extensive experience in training forest, police and other enforcement officers across the country.


New themes to add to the film will include coverage of anti-poaching planning methods, such as the Management Information SysTem software used to spatially map patrol efforts and results, to monitor and adapt anti-poaching tactics.


We’ll be interviewing colleagues at INTERPOL to share best practice in relation to intelligence analysis and dissemination, and will reach out to Customs contacts who can share experience of the use of Controlled Deliveries to disrupt international criminal networks.


We’ve also identified enforcement personnel who have excellent case studies to share, for example where the implementation of multi-agency investigations, including the use of forensic sciences, has helped bag tiger poachers who have also been poaching Asiatic lions for the bone trade.


Our colleagues at CITES have recommended that we expand the scope of this film in terms of the market and demand for tiger and Asian big cat parts beyond skins. So we’re busy rummaging through our own archives first and foremost, trawling for footage of bones, medicines, tiger bone wine, teeth, claws, and identifying sources of footage that we might need to outsource.


This year’s investigative work will also generate fresh information to feed into the film….but more on that later (hush hush).