South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) in collaboration with INTERPOL Environmental Security Programme with support of WCCB India organized a 'Regional Investigative Meeting on Wildlife Crime' in participation of delegates from four SAWEN member countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal on 23-25 April 2018 in Siliguri, India. The meeting aimed to initiate and facilitate local level coordination by creating conducive environment among law enforcement agencies working in border areas and to discuss on existing transboundary issues. The meeting was focused on border security issues relating to wildlife parts and products smuggling in the region.
The meeting was organized in Siliguri, India as it has been identified as one of the main distribution hubs for smuggled wildlife in the region due to its proximity to the Indian borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Twenty-three officers representing wildlife and forest departments, police, customs, and border security agencies from the four countries attended the meeting.
The participating countries worked together to identify the major wildlife smuggling routes based on seizure data and intelligence. The countries also discussed on highly traded species and pointed out the major species smuggled through border points. The species include Tokay gecko, big cats (mainly parts of tiger and common leopards), pangolin scales, rhino horns, Asian elephant ivory, musk pods, bear bile, native and exotic birds, reptiles (mainly turtles and geckos), shark fin and ray fish. The meeting identified come problems in combating wildlife crime. The problems included that the topography and the volume of traffic made it very difficult for law enforcement to closely monitor the cross-border movement of people and goods. In addition, inadequate trained staff and lack of appropriate training on wildlife parts and products identification, profiling of wildlife smugglers and modus operandi are other common problems. Use of postal and air-land-seaports by the traders for wildlife smuggling was also identified.
In the meeting, it was expected that INTERPOL and SAWEN should facilitate to organize capacity building focused activities, better intelligence sharing, multi-agency cooperation and international collaboration and to continue helping in cross-border coordination through joint meetings, trainings and database management. Collaboration between the law enforcement agencies in intra-national and international level among the participated countries was highlight of the program.