***NEWS FROM WCS***
Laos, China and Viet Nam Enhance Cooperation to Combat Transnational Wildlife Trafficking Networks
VIENTIANE, LAOS (April 7, 2016) – Frontline enforcement officers from key provinces, ports and border posts in Laos, China and Viet Nam completed an inter-agency field mission this week to share experiences, approaches and update the situation on wildlife smuggling networks along the major Indo-Burma trade route.
Throughout the mission, participants visited key sites along the trafficking network such as the Qingping traditional medicine market in Guangzhou and significant smuggling points along international borders. Meetings with local officers were held to better understand the situation on the ground, build relationships, share intelligence on recent cases and enhance strategies for cooperative actions.
This trade route across IndoBurma is believed to cover the most significant illegal flow of elephant ivory, pangolin scales, tiger bones, and freshwater turtles and tortoises. While governments in the region have provided a political voice to combatting wildlife trafficking networks, this has yet to translate into on-the-ground action at the network level, and trafficking networks continue unabated.
In order to summarize the results of the mission, the Department of Forest Inspection (DoFI) of Lao PDR hosted a meeting in Vientiane. Participants discussed past challenges to effective transnational cooperation and drafted a roadmap for collaboration in 2016. This included establishing direct communication protocols and mainstreaming wildlife trafficking into bi-lateral meetings between frontline agencies through the development of further bilateral agreements between neighboring provinces.
Mr. Yin Bangxiang - Deputy Director of China’s Guangxi Anti-Smuggling Office, praised the action: “In many countries enforcement cooperation is restricted to political pledges in a meeting room; so it is very encouraging that each participant should pay more effort to advocate the government to operate their commitments immediately.”
Mr. Air Vilarket, Deputy Director of DoFI’s Department of Wildlife and Aquatic Life Inspection, was pleased with the outcomes of this mission. “Participating in the mission benefited our participants greatly. We learned about wildlife trade along the route, the mandate of law enforcement of each country, and in near future we hope this will facilitate targeted training and information exchange to improve regional collaboration.”
Mr. Pham Quang Tung, of CITES MA Viet Nam, stated that: "Wildlife trade is a serious transnational crime and it is critical that we enhance sharing information across borders for frontline officers; we hope to develop mechanisms to enable this in the coming year.”
The mission was hosted by the CITES Management Authority of China and Vietnam, the Department of Forest Inspection (Lao PDR), facilitated by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association, with support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the blue moon fund.