Encouraging international collaborations to fight wildlife crime

SAWEN: South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network
TRAFFIC encourages regional cooperation as a basis for fighting wildlife crime and curbing illegal trade of endangered wildlife. Therefore it has been actively involved in bringing together the eight south Asian countries to form the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). SAWEN was formally launched at an inter-governmental meeting hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan, on 30 January 2012 thereby opening a new chapter in regional cooperation in South Asia for strengthening wildlife law enforcement. Its Secretariat is based in Nepal.

Illegal wildlife trade is a form of trans-national organized crime that threatens many iconic species across the world. South Asia, home to a diverse network of natural ecosystems and varied biodiversity, is especially vulnerable to such threats. Apart from key species such as tigers, elephants and rhinos, there are a variety of medicinal plants, timber, marine species, birds and reptiles are threatened by illegal exploitation and trafficking. To counter such threats, the eight countries of South Asia had come together to establish this organized and co-ordinated body.
Establishment of SAWEN
At the 11th Meeting of the Governing Council of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) organized in Jaipur (India) in May 2008, Environment Ministers of the eight South Asian countries announced their support for the formation of a South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).

In addition, a meeting of representatives from South Asia’s Tiger Range Countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal) held during the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop in October 2009 also acknowledged the dire need to establish SAWEN. The First Meeting of the South Asia Experts Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade held in Kathmandu in May 2010 developed a road map for the establishment of SAWEN . The same was also expressed at a workshop session during the first Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, held in Hua Hin, Thailand in January 2010.

The South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) was formally launched during the Second Meeting of the South Asia Experts Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade held from 29-30 January 2011 in Paro, Bhutan. The meeting agreed to an action-oriented work plan for joint activities; establishment of the SAWEN Secretariat hosted by the Government of Nepal, governance and operational structure for SAWEN, and the need for strategic collaboration on communications and fundraising.

The SAWEN Secretariat was formally established on 20 April 2011 at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), Government of Nepal. The Director-General of DNPWC serves concurrently as the "Chief Enforcement Coordinator” (CEC) of SAWEN.


  1. To identify trade hotspots and priority species in wildlife trade across South Asia and undertaking periodic analyses of priority wildlife trade routes in member countries and across the region.
  2. To analyse crime trends and statistics and share them with key decision makers.
  3. To strengthen the link between field and the centre for appropriate policy formulation in and amongst member countries and support strengthening of the appropriate national legislation amongst members countries.
  4. To encourage the use of scientific tools and techniques including forensics as an integral tool for fighting wildlife crime.
  5. To focus and pilot intelligence-led operations within SAWEN and external countries of origin and destinations.
  6. To encourage better communication amongst key stakeholders across member countries on issues related to wildlife trade and law enforcement. Sensitize stakeholders by building public awareness on the scale of the problem in South Asia, and engage consumer countries while leading a call to action.
  7. To strengthen bilateral and multilateral collaborative efforts amongst member countries and other countries along the trade chain to regulate wildlife trade, and link with other organizations and treaties working on transnational crime
  8. To raise adequate resources to facilitate the meeting of the avowed goals and objectives of SAWEN.


SAWEN operates through a permanent Secretariat established in Nepal and is led by a Member Country as Chair, appointed on a rotational basis every year among the eight member countries. The day‐to‐day operations of the General House of SAWEN are managed by an Executive Committee, which consists of one representative from each of the member countries.

The SAWEN Secretariat established in Nepal carries out the day to day general business and administrative work in close coordination with the focal points of SAWEN member countries.
Nepal workshop
Opening ceremony

To strengthen, promote and co-ordinate regional co-operation for curbing illegal wildlife trade that threatens the wild flora and fauna of South Asia


Key Goals

  • SAWEN supports the work of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) by contributing to regional co-operation under the Convention with respect to “wildlife conservation and combating illegal trade in wildlife and bio‐resources”.
  • SAWEN helps foster awareness on the issues and implications of wildlife trade across countries by developing response strategies; building capacity of the staff and sharing information and experiences to “enabling frameworks” for conservation of species.
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