The Environmental Crime Crisis

Successes and progress There are a number of successful recent developments in combating transnational organized environmental crime from both the international community as well as from indi- vidual countries, including from Latin America, Africa and Asia that can be expanded, emulated, adapted and built upon. Some significant examples are given below, but they represent only a small portion of many on-going successful initiatives from the international community, NGOs and governments. Poaching for Shahtoosh wool caused a dramatic drop of likely 80–90% or nearly a million Tibetan or Chiru antelopes in China in the 1990–2000s. This resulted in a significant police and military effort to prevent eradication. It was combined with the establishment of some of the largest protected areas in the world. Thus improved management and successful awareness campaigns combined with strict enforcement efforts to save the Tibetan antelope from extinction. Popula- tions are slowly recovering, although they are still very vulner- able and more monitoring and surveys are urgently needed. Brazil is probably one of the world’s leading countries in a wide enforcement effort to reduce illegal deforestation by tackling the full criminal chain and their networks. Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon reached its lowest level in 2012, since moni- toring of the forest began in 1988. It went down by 64–78%, dependent upon estimate, primarily as a result of a coordinated enforcement approach using satellite imagery and targeted

police operations and investigations. The effort included front- line protection and investigations, as well as prosecutions of ringleaders and networks. Here enforcement efforts have been the primary cause of the observed reduction in illegal logging. But importantly, the campaign is being supported by large-scale efforts through REDD and other initiatives to strengthen the participatory processes of indigenous peoples, stake holders and alternative livelihoods. The ratio has probably been ca. 90% civilian and 10% enforcement effort. Unfortunately, in most cases elsewhere in the world, authorities have not prioritized comparably robust enforcement efforts. Joining these two types of efforts is crucial for combating environmental crime. Other important efforts include strengthening frontline protection such as the recently initiated and on-going large- scale training of rangers in East Africa. In Tanzania especially, over 1,100 rangers have received specialized training in the past two years. The training covers tracking of poachers, tactics and wildlife crime scene management. It has been done under the auspices of INTERPOL and UNODC and has resulted in a series of frontline arrests linking suspects to the scene of crime. The training is improving not only rangers’ ability to stop and arrest poachers, but it also supports successful pros- ecutions and good enforcement ethics based on evidence, prosecution and trial in court. Such efforts invest in a long- term capacity and do not just provide short-term operations or enforcement efforts. These capacity-building efforts need to be continuously funded for the enforcement chain to be


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