New Delhi: Officials from enforcement and intelligence agencies of the eight South Asian countries besides China, Russia and Myanmar will meet here next week to develop a cross cutting operational strategy to curb the growing menace of illegal wildlife trade in the region.
The meeting is being hosted by INTERPOL`s Environmental Crime Programme and the Central Bureau of Investigation, with additional technical support from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), and TRAFFIC.
Illegal wildlife trade is perceived to be a high profit and low risk activity and has grown to become the fifth largest illegal global trade after narcotics, counterfeiting, human trafficking and oil trafficking.
Besides driving many endangered species towards extinction, illegal wildlife trade strengthens criminal networks, undermines national security, and poses increasing risks to global health.
Since illegal wildlife trade extends beyond national borders, a regional strategy and international cooperation are needed to address its growing influence.
Against this background, this specialised capacity development and operation planning meeting will aim to identify regional priorities in wildlife law enforcement, implement a common approach for regional operations and bridge communication gaps between agencies at the national and regional levels, a statement released by TRAFFIC said here.
The Integrated Investigative Capacity Development and Operational Planning Meeting from July 1-5 is a critical step to mobilise co-ordinated action against wildlife crime by the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), it said.
At least three officials from each of the South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) representing one or more enforcement agencies, including the police, wildlife departments, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, INTERPOL National Central Bureaus, environmental agencies, SAWEN focal points and Customs agencies are expected to attend the meeting as well as delegates from China and Russia.
The meeting will largely focus on capacity development of tools for the support of investigative operations, intelligence-led best practices such as controlled deliveries, questioning wildlife smugglers, risk management and ethics and professionalism in building wildlife cases.