Interpol have released a report highlighting how Environmental Crime converges with Serious Crime. It’s an issue we have long been talking about, and one that Debbie Martyr, FFI Tiger Protection Team Leader has been flagging in her reports for some time.
Protecting wild tigers has become a sophisticated battle, and it is unsurprising when you read excerpts from this report.
“Often compounded by limited training, poor equipment, a lack of resource and support, violence is a real and significant threat for many front-line officers around the world. It is also one that contributes to the complexity of their ability to respond quickly and effectively to what is occurring on the ground.”1
Poachers are armed and funded by heavy hitting trans-national criminal syndicates – and this is the major threat to wild tigers at this time. “Authorities often find themselves dealing with criminals who have committed other offences such as those relating to murder, money laundering, tax evasion, corruption, piracy, forgery, corporate fraud, and the trafficking of drugs or firearms – but with the primary driver being the exploitation of the environment.”1
In the latest report from the FFI Tiger Protection Team, Debbie comments, “It continued to be difficult to advance higher-level trade investigations to a point where evidence is observed which is the crucial precursor to mounting law enforcement. Surveillance training was provided to selected members of the team by another programme donor in May and this may be helpful in addressing this issue but will be time consuming to implement in full and will not be a ‘magic bullet’ in addressing the growing levels of sophistication exhibited by illegal wildlife trade networks.”
For Debbie, I am sure it will be reassuring to see Interpol’s strategic recommendations to counter crime convergence, specifically the “Encourage and support multi-agency participation in the planning and execution of enforcement operations and investigations.”
For us, this sets a priority for future fundraising – we need to raise more funds to allow Debbie to focus more time and resource into intelligence-led, law enforcement activity. We need to catch the major players in wildlife crime, not just the ‘foot soldiers’, ensuring both criminal convictions AND that proceeds of crime are frozen or confiscated.
As we head into the festive season, please consider sponsoring an anti-poaching unit in Sumatra. Help us to arm the front-line of wild tiger conservation in Sumatra and give wild tigers a future.
1 Citations from the Interpol Report, “Environmental Crime and its Convergence with other Serious Crimes”
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