Rajasthan Forest Department gears up to respond to wildlife cybercrime
Traditionally, trade of illegal wildlife has been in physical markets but since the growth of internet, there are compelling evidences that wildlife traffickers are going online to reach a vast virtual marketplace with the mask of anonymity. Presently, lack of efficient tools for effective monitoring of high-volume social media data limits the capability of law enforcement agencies to effectively monitor illegal wildlife trade on cyber space.
Keeping this in mind, TRAFFIC India along with WWF-India, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Police Radio Training School (PRTS), Indore, had organized two-day capacity building workshop on curbing wildlife related cybercrime, at Sariska Tiger Reserve from 21-22 July 2019 that was attended by 36 officials from Rajasthan Forest Department.
Mr Varun Kapoor, Additional Director General, Madhya Pradesh Police; Mr Malay Mahant, Incharge Training, PRTS Indore; Mr Afzal Khan, Incharge Technical Cell, PRTS Indore along with Mr Pramod K. Yadav, Senior Project Officer, TRAFFIC India and Dr Abhishek Bhatnagar, Landscape Coordinator, Western India Tiger Landscape, WWF-India had conducted this training that included important sessions on intelligence, investigation, and search and seizure techniques; communication device investigation; social media investigation; cybercrime scene management; digital forensics, digital intelligence collection; wildlife forensics; telecom surveillance and CDR analysis and IPDR – (CDR of IP address) analysis.
During the training Mr Varun Kapoor from Madhya Pradesh Police said, “Smart monitoring of social media can reveal useful information to the enforcement agencies regarding activities of wildlife criminals. Hence, considering the fast-changing dynamics of cyberspace, there is an urgent need to understand the phenomenon and challenges of wildlife cybercrime in order to take appropriate actions to combat this. This capacity building workshop aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of the participants for this purpose”.
Mr Pramod K. Yadav, TRAFFIC India highlighted how illegal wildlife trade is expanding globally and in addition to the existing physical markets cyberspace is now emerging as a preferred market for illegal wildlife trade.
Dr Abhishek Bhatnagar, WWF-India gave an overview of the issues related to Tiger conservation and protection in this landscape and how various threats such as habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and illegal wildlife trade is taking a toll on the wild fauna.
Mr S. R. Yadav, Deputy Director of Sariska Tiger Reserve raised his concerns about cyberspace emerging as a prominent medium for illegal trade in wildlife.
Mr Ghashyam Sharma, Field Director of Sariska Tiger Reserve further added that there is an urgent need to equip forest department with modern tools and techniques to combat wildlife cybercrime in the state. He thanked TRAFFIC and its partners, for taking this initiative to provide timely knowledge and skills to forest officials to respond to the growing wildlife crime in cyberspace.
The workshop in Sariska is fourth in the series of capacity building workshops organized under TRAFFIC’s new programme titled “CyberCLAW” for combating wildlife cybercrime in India.