Intel unit established to combat illegal wildlife trade


Intel unit established to combat illegal wildlife trade

Elephant ivory worth 15 million baht is put on display at a police press briefing on Jan 12, 2018. The 31 pieces of ivory were believed to have been smuggled into Thailand by wildlife traders from Nigeria. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has set up an intelligence unit to help suppress the illegal trade in wildlife.

Noppadol Pholsen, secretary to Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, presided over the opening ceremony for the new Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit (WCU).

Mr Noppadol said the WCU is funded by the Illegal Wildlife Trade Project, a five-year effort to combat the illegal wildlife trade, focusing on ivory, rhino horn, tigers and pangolins.

The WCU is also supported by the United Nations Development Programme and Wildlife Conservation Society, he said.

Mr Noppadol said the unit strengthens the intelligence system using “I2” database technology and software to collect wildlife data, which is typically more complex and difficult to analyse.

The programme helps visualise and interpret data to help authorities investigate the trade. It is also useful for wildlife authorities to map connections between wildlife poachers and their communications devices, known locations and local information in the region, he said.

The “I2” database is now fully functioning at the WCU.

The DNP, which is responsible for the WCU, has trained 80 park officers nationwide to use the database and they would work closely with the WCU.

Mr Noppadol said the WCU is also responsible for providing training programmes for the DNP’s wildlife enforcement network special working group. The WCU is also working with other agencies in sharing information on suppression of the wildlife trade.

Since Pol Gen Phatcharavat took over as minister he has pushed the enforcement of forest and wildlife resources-related laws, Mr Noppadol said.

The DNP enforces the Wild Animal Conservation and Protection Act 2019, which has been revised to add penalties for possessing, trading, importing and exporting protected wildlife trophies.

Thailand also has joined a convention on plants and wildlife to step up preventive measures against such trade, he said.

Source

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