BHUTAN, INDIA, AND NEPAL COLLABORATE TO COUNTER WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING IN SOUTH ASIA
In order to curb wildlife trafficking and illegal wildlife trade in South Asia, TRAFFIC's India Office and WWF-India, in collaboration with the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), the Government of India, are implementing a unique regional project to strengthen and build the capacity of law enforcement agencies in Bhutan, India and Nepal and strengthen cooperation among them. Officers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will also be participating in the workshop. The project is being implemented with funding support from the US Government.
The first Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop under this regional project commenced on 21 November 2023 at Dehradun, Uttarakhand and will culminate on 29 November 2023 in New Delhi. The Chief Guest of the workshop, Shri Jag Mohan Sharma, IFS, Director, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy and Guest of Honour, Shri Virendra Tiwari, IFS, Director, Wildlife Institute of India, inaugurated the ToT. Also present were the Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Shri H V Girisha, IFS, and Advisor – WWF-India & TRAFFIC's India Office, Shri Soumitra Dasgupta, IFS (Retd.), former ADG (Wildlife), MoEFCC and Head of Forest Force, West Bengal. Shri Girisha welcomed all the participants on behalf of the Government of India. The dignitaries spoke about the importance of this training and the need for this kind of training to curb wildlife crime in the South Asia region.
The training is being attended by 34 officials, ten from Bhutan, India, Nepal, and two from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The officials are from various law enforcement agencies in their country, including Forest Departments, Customs, Police, and para-military forces.
The 9-day training workshop will focus on building the participant's knowledge and skills in curbing wildlife trafficking in the region. It will be conducted by experts from WCCB, National Crime Bureau, Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Forest Research Institute (FRI), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dr Keshav Kumar IPS (Retd.), among other subject experts from India.
The various sessions planned during the training include an overview of wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade in South Asia; CITES and its implementation; coordination and cooperation for tackling wildlife crime in Asia; learnings from the successes of conservation; role of rangers; human-wildlife conflict fueling wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade; role of an investigator; introduction to wildlife forensics; methods to identify certain wildlife species from derivatives and differentiate between counterfeit; plant identification; protocol for mortality of protected and regulated species and other species with case studies; wildlife crime scene management; sample collection; wildlife forensic evidence collection; seizure of live animals (exotic/native); handling live animals; wildlife cybercrime and cyber forensics.
Field sessions on search and collection, wildlife crime scene management, evidence collection, seizure of live animals (exotic/native)/ derivative and documentation process have also been carefully designed for the participants.
Shri H.V. Girisha IFS, Additional Director, WCCB said, "This regional workshop has been carefully designed considering the evolving scenario of illegal wildlife trade. The training focuses on increasing interdiction of the illegal wildlife trade, building investigative and enforcement capabilities to handle transboundary issues, and enhancing cross-border coordination. As a specialist organisation working on curbing wildlife crime in India, WCCB will lead the execution of this regional workshop".
ShriSindhu Prasad Dhungan, PhD, Chief Enforcement Coordinator, South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) adds, "SAWEN was established in 2011 as an inter-governmental wildlife law enforcement support body to focus on policy harmonisation; institutional capacity strengthening through knowledge and intelligence sharing; and collaboration with regional and international partners to enhance wildlife law enforcement in the member countries. Therefore, this regional training is integral to its overarching mission to curb wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade in South Asia. SAWEN is providing full support for this regional project".
Dr Dipankar Ghose, Senior Director, Biodiversity Conservation and Interim Head of TRAFFIC's India Office said, "Wildlife crime is an organised crime that needs a strategic and tactical response. It is also transnational and can not be dealt with in isolation. Therefore, this regional project focuses on bringing together South Asian countries to build their wildlife enforcement capacity, coordination and prosecution across the region through assessment, technology and community engagement. The project activities are designed to strengthen South Asia's criminal justice institutions effectively and sustainably for better deterrence, detection and enforcement, ultimately reducing wildlife trade and trafficking".
Shri Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India said, "The new regional project – Countering wildlife trafficking in South Asia - aims to build on knowledge and experience sharing among enforcement officials in South Asian countries for curbing illegal wildlife trade. The workshops planned under the project will bring together officials from Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India and will help to strengthen the foundation for future cooperation and collaboration".
Various initiatives under this regional project include conducting capacity building for trainers, national capacity building for law enforcement, new tools and technologies for identification and detection, and support for more effective prosecution and judiciary work. The project will support officials in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and will help strengthen SAWEN as the primary regional organisation combating wildlife trafficking.
The regional TOT workshops are being organised at Dehradun and New Delhi from 21 November to 29 November 2023; and then from 11 December to 19 December 2023.
For any queries or more information, please contact Dr Merwyn Fernandes at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call him at +91 9820347492; or Ms Dilpreet B. Chhabra at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call her +91 9899000472.