Cross-border intelligence-sharing, results in major seizure in Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand - The ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) is to support and help widen an investigation into an organised wildlife crime syndicate after yesterday's seizure of 11 dead tigers, leopards and clouded leopards, as well as 275 live pangolins from Khub Pung village of Tambon Nam Kham in Thailand, near the border with Lao PDR. The big cats, all wild-caught, are suspected to have come from southern Thailand or Malaysia. This aspect of the case is still under investigation. PeunPa confirms that the seizure was made possible as a result of cross-border information-sharing under the ASEAN-WEN umbrella, with the assistance of the ASEAN-WEN Support Program. Thailand's ASEAN-WEN Task Force will meet with international investigators this Friday to discuss next steps in their efforts to track down the traffickers.
The Royal Thai Navy's Khong River Coast Guard seized the huge load of pangolins from one truck and the six dead tigers, three leopards and two clouded leopards from another truck at 3 am yesterday. Most of the big cats had been cut in half and their organs removed. They were about to be loaded into boats bound for Lao PDR, for delivery to customers from Vietnam and China.
Southeast Asia is targeted by poachers and illegal wildlife traders for its rich biodiversity and ease of movement between countries. In 2006, Thailand took the initiative to set up the ASEAN-WEN to combat the growing menace of cross-border wildlife crime in the region. The ASEAN-WEN aims to create a strong law enforcement response against poachers and traders who operate across countries throughout Southeast Asia.
Wildlife Alliance, PeunPa (Thailand) and TRAFFIC have formed the ASEAN-WEN Support Program and are providing technical and financial assistance to ASEAN-WEN. The Support Program congratulates the Thai police agencies that worked together to make this major seizure, which once again highlights the
trans-national nature of wildlife crime. "We now need to help authorities find out who was behind this and many other illegal cross-border shipments of this region's endangered species", said Steve Galster, Director of Field Operations for partner organisations PeunPa and Wildlife Alliance.
According to TRAFFIC's Senior Programme Officer in Southeast Asia, Chris R. Shepherd, "The trade in endangered species across the Malaysian-Thailand border is a serious issue, involving large volumes of wildlife, and requires full cooperation of all enforcement agencies on both sides of the border".
For more information, please contact:
Tassanee Vejpongsa, Communications Officer, PeunPa Foundation (A member of Wildlife Alliance).
Chris Shepherd, Senior Programme Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
Tel: +603 7880 3940, Mobile: +6 012 234 0790
Article originally appeared on TRAFFIC's website.