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| Last Updated:12/01/2021

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‘Wildlife trafficking and crime are ever shifting and changing’




Wildlife trafficking and crimes are fluid, ever-changing processes and a single-minded focus on certain wildlife products won’t help the cause of conservation until criminal networks are destroyed, the head of one of the globe’s largest conservation charities has said.



“If you only focus on a product, you are going to miss disrupting a network that will move to anything else it can make money on,” Azzedine Downes, the president and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), told reporters in Delhi on July 12, 2019.



Downes is in India for meetings with IFAW’s Indian partner, Delhi-based conservation non-profit, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), headed by conservationist Vivek Menon.



 “There are three elements to wildlife trafficking and crime: the places where poached animals live, meaning the source countries; the trade networks through which the products pass and finally, the consumers, like China,” he explained.



When asked about what measures his organisation takes to strengthen law enforcement to prevent wildlife crime, Downes listed a number of measures, especially educating law enforcement officers.



“IFAW has a MoU with Interpol to share data, which is highly unusual for a non-profit,” he said.



“We also work with organisations that are outside the conservation arena especially on wildlife cybercrime. We educate all organisations that are selling the products online, as to what they should or should not allow on their sites,” he added.



For educating police personnel, airport workers and customs officials, IFAW initially prepared pocket booklets featuring the 25 most traded species in a particular area.



A recent measure has been to keep a veterinary service stationed at the airport. Anyone looking to implement the law at the airport has their mobile number. They can take a photo, send it to the veterinarians and ask whether that animal should be confiscated.




“Ït is a practical, low cost way,” said Downes.