It is getting harder to be a wildlife criminal

According to an article in the South China Morning Post,1 Hong Kong customs officers seized HKD 120 million (about USD 15 million) in illegal endangered wildlife products, including ivory and rhino horn, in the first eight months of 2017. Overall, during this period, customs officers confiscated 3,300 smuggled endangered species products, weighing a total of 49 tonnes. To get through customs, smugglers had disguised pangolin scales as potato chips, concealed ivory in computer cases and even wrapped live turtles in socks before hiding them in luggage or in boxes.

65%

of the major poaching syndicates in some areas of Tanzania have been disrupted, thanks to the work of PAMS Foundation.

According to an article in the South China Morning Post,1 Hong Kong customs officers seized HKD 120 million (about USD 15 million) in illegal endangered wildlife products, including ivory and rhino horn, in the first eight months of 2017. Overall, during this period, customs officers confiscated 3,300 smuggled endangered species products, weighing a total of 49 tonnes. To get through customs, smugglers had disguised pangolin scales as potato chips, concealed ivory in computer cases and even wrapped live turtles in socks before hiding them in luggage or in boxes.

 

“Guilty verdicts for wildlife crimes send a strong message to networks of poachers, smugglers, financers, middlemen, shippers and retailers – that the world values its natural heritage and wants the exploitation of wildlife to stop."

- Alexandra Kennaugh Illegal Wildlife Trade Programme Officer Oak Foundation

 

Global awareness of the issue is growing. Civil society is responding to a rising wildlife trafficking industry estimated to be worth, globally, USD 23 billion a year.2 Wildlife crime laws are getting stronger. Domestic markets for ivory are closing and increased intelligence-led investigations are producing more convictions from Hanoi to Hong Kong to Harare. Indeed, heavier court sentences may even be causing the black market industry to adjust its tactics.

 

Now, instead of smuggling in bulk via the oceans as they once did, traffickers are sending protected species in small air parcels or with air passengers to minimise risk. In addition, online shopping and e-commerce trade is mushrooming. Illegal trade routes are splintering and becoming more complex.

 

In turn, this means conservation and law enforcement partners must also respond with more target-led arrests to bring wildlife criminals to justice. These include higher profile court cases, trickier transboundary coordination and complicated transnational tactics – all in an environment where the risks are escalating considerably.

 

Oak Foundation supports the dedicated and passionate networks of people and not-for-profit organisations around the world engaged in this fight to ensure wild populations of elephants and rhinos can thrive. This includes our grantees featured in this report: PAMS Foundation, based in Tanzania; the Environmental Investigation Agency, based in the United Kingdom; and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Combatting Wildlife Trafficking programme, which works internationally.

 

Disrupting traffickers

Oak supports PAMS Foundation in Tanzania. As the only not-for-profit organisation to provide anti-poaching support across all major elephant ecosystems in Tanzania, PAMS has been instrumental in bringing about a dramatic reduction of poaching in the country in recent years.

 

Krissie Clark and the late Wayne Lotter, co-founders of PAMS, pioneered an intelligence-led approach to investigating wildlife crime with the Tanzanian National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit and the recently established Wildlife and Forest Crime Task Force. By coordinating public agencies, this approach targets high-level buyers, transporters and financers of poaching networks, who are becoming increasingly well organised on a global scale. This has led to a significant decline in poaching.

 

PAMS estimates that more than 65 per cent (on average) of the major poaching syndicates operating in Tanzania’s Ruaha, Katavi, Selous, Tarangire-Manyara ecosystems, and more than 80 per cent of their sponsors in the cities, including Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, have been disrupted. This has dramatically reduced the killing of elephants across Tanzania.

 

Oak’s Illegal Wildlife Trade strategy will continue to champion organisations that disrupt wildlife trafficking networks by using intelligence-led approaches, while building law enforcement and judiciary capacity. Our hope is that our partners’ work will: strengthen civil society partnerships through formal and informal networks; build capacity for effective law enforcement and prosecution; and ensure enough resources to ultimately stop the poaching of wildlife.

 

Improving governance

The United Kingdom is the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory, which stimulates consumer demand internationally. In 2017, Oak supported the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and a consortium of organisations to harness widespread public support for the UK Government to shut down domestic UK ivory markets.

 

An established organisation in combatting illegal wildlife trade, the EIA brings many actors on wildlife trade policy together at an international level. We believe that the EIA’s collaborative approach is fundamental to building lasting solutions.

 

“In order to develop new policies to benefit the conservation field, we help cultivate trust between organisations and people at both international and regional levels,” says Mary Rice, executive director of EIA.

 

Part of Oak’s illegal wildlife trade strategy is to help build global capacity in a way that benefits the entire conservation sector. We support organisations that seek to advance knowledge, foster innovation an leverage funding to serve this aim. This is done by: integrating conservation efforts into existing poverty and crime reduction programmes; sharing knowledge; and complementing private investments in conservation with leadership and collaboration.

 

Linking global capacity

With programmes in nearly 60 countries, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) works globally to combat trafficking networks. It does this by increasing commitment for and improving the capacity of intelligence-led law enforcement. This is done by increasing expertise among enforcement authorities and institutions.

 

Oak supports WCS to strengthen civil society and government partnerships to combat rhino horn trafficking networks between Africa and Asia. WCS’s Counter Wildlife Trafficking Unit will scale up civil society/government partnerships on both sides of the Indian Ocean. This will help ensure strategic, intelligence-led enforcement actions against suspected rhino horn traffickers operating between Mozambique, Vietnam and China. The need to combat the trafficking of rhino horn through Mozambique to southeast Asia is vital for the long-term survival of wild populations of African rhinoceros, particularly the critically endangered black rhino.

 

Going forward

Oak is optimistic that the efforts of our partners will mean that future generations will grow up in a world where elephant and rhino roam freely and safely. Equally, by helping to weed out criminal activity along the wildlife trade supply chain, we hope that trailblazing conservation approaches will take root and flourish.

 

Honouring Wayne Lotter

Oak Foundation was deeply saddened by the tragic death of Wayne Lotter in Tanzania in August 2017.

 

Wayne Lotter (featured in the photo above) was a co-founder of the PAMS Foundation, one of our conservation partners in Tanzania. He was a passionate man who dedicated his life to saving wildlife and ensuring the end to an abominable illegal wildlife trade. He died a hero on the frontlines of this battle – and remains an inspiration to us all.

 

 

 

Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report

 

Year of publication: 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Our mission

Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

Privacy Policy, Security Protocols and Terms of Use.

 

©2018 Oak Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter. Read our previous newsletters.

 

 

General enquiries
For general enquiries, concerns, or further questions regarding the content in this website, please do not hesitate to contact the Communications Department.

 

 

Social Media

Twitter

Linkedin

Privacy Policy, Security Protocols
and Terms of Use
.

 

©2018 Oak Foundation.
All rights reserved.

 

Privacy Policy, Security Protocols and Terms of Use.

 

©2018 Oak Foundation.
All rights reserved.