Combating Wildlife Trafficking
Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is the 4th largest transnational crime with an overall annual worth of $7 – $23 billion, targeting iconic species such as the tiger and elephant, snow leopard, common leopard, the one-horned rhino, all pangolin species, many bear species, several species of deer and reptiles, seahorses, star tortoises, butterflies, peacocks, parakeets, sharks, rays, and corals. All these species face significant threats from trafficking due to the demand for wildlife specimens and their parts. Additionally, wildlife trafficking weakens the rule of law, worsens corruption, funds violent armed groups and organized crime syndicates, and promotes the spread of zoonotic diseases. Wildlife traffickers function as a highly organized crime syndicate operating at different levels of the supply chain – including poachers, local informers, transporters and financiers. Dismantling wildlife crime requires collaborative action by various state and central agencies mandated to protect wildlife in the country.
WCS-India’s Approach To Combating Wildlife Trafficking:
WCS-India focuses on playing the role of a facilitator by enabling government staff gain access to information, skills, technology, and expert support required to tackle wildlife crimes in India.
We currently identify two primary problems to effectively combat wildlife trafficking:
- Low awareness among field agents about the illegality of wildlife trade, and
- Lack of capacity to undertake robust investigation and build strong cases against wildlife criminals.
WCS-India’s goal is to help improve India’s capacity to detect, identify, investigate, arrest, prosecute, and convict criminal organizations that perpetrate wildlife trafficking.
We employ a holistic approach that includes-
- Capacity building workshops and trainings for law enforcement agencies and judiciary that encourage interagency collaboration between state-level Forest and Police Departments, security forces, customs and financial intelligence bodies to dismantle organised wildlife trafficking networks
- Technical support through app, helpline, and i2 software to provide instant guidance in species identification and preparation of watertight prosecution cases
- Strengthening of legislative frameworks through policy analysis and monitoring of wildlife crime cases
Our efforts are geared towards working closely with Indian agencies to advance the country’s ability to combat wildlife trafficking by enhancing law enforcement and investigative capabilities, and developing prosecutorial and judicial capacity to dismantle organized wildlife crime in India.