A Sun Bear Cub Rescued by the WRRT in September
Last week we celebrated the first ever World Wildlife Day! Created by the United Nations to highlight the incredible animals with which we share our planet, this day also serves to remind us of the urgent need to protect them. In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked citizens and governments to commit to help end illegal wildlife trafficking, stating that, “the environmental, economic and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound. Of particular concern are the implications of illicit trafficking for peace and security in a number of countries where organized crime, insurgency and terrorism are often closely linked.” Our wildlife is under ever more pressing threat, and wildlife crime is putting many of the world's species in immediate danger of extinction.
Since 2001, Wildlife Alliance has been working to halt this criminal trade. We partnered with the Cambodian government to create a special wildlife crime investigation and counter-trafficking unit known as the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT). This team travels throughout Cambodia conducting undercover operations, investigating trafficking networks, intercepting wildlife shipments and rescuing animals. The WRRT has rescued over 56,000 animals and confiscated 30 tons of wildlife products since 2001. In 2013 alone, the team conducted 640 operations, apprehended 189 traders, imposed $16,000 in fines, and rescued 2,616 animals from the wildlife trade. While the team has made remarkable advances in tearing down the trafficking network in Cambodia, the deterrents are not enough to put an end to wildlife crime. Recently, wildlife is increasingly being transported from Thailand into Cambodia and then onto Vietnam. To address this new trend, the WRRT initiated meetings with border authorities, including Customs officials and local police at well known wildlife trafficking points. The purpose of the meetings has been to strengthen ties and encourage authorities to work closely with the WRRT regarding the transnational trading of wildlife and wildlife parts. Increased cooperation with border and airport officials has already led to several successful arrests, and we hope to continue to build on these relationships in the upcoming year. It has become clear the illegal trade is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the WRRT is utilizing all its resources to continue to work aggressively to end wildlife trafficking in Cambodia. We urge you to help us celebrate this inaugural event by supporting the rangers and law enforcement officials that devote their lives daily to protect our planet.
47 Snail-Eating Turtles Rescued from a Trader