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Wildlife trafficking: India, four other nations plan coordinated crackdown using Interpol channels

India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have planned coordinated crackdowns on wildlife trafficking kingpins operating through their jurisdiction by sharing criminal intelligence and breaking down their financial flows, officials said.
Last Updated 25 February 2024, 10:50 IST

New Delhi: India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have planned coordinated crackdowns on wildlife trafficking kingpins operating through their jurisdiction by sharing criminal intelligence and breaking down their financial flows, officials said.

During the two-day Regional Investigative and Analytical Case Meeting (RIACM) on Exotic Species Trafficking organised by the CBI and Interpol here recently, experts deliberated on four crucial routes used by the traffickers to transport exotic species.

The term exotic species refers to those not part of native wildlife in a particular habitat or geographical area.

It has emerged that air cargo is the most common route used by traffickers to smuggle exotic wildlife from Africa to Southeast Asia and then to India and China, officials said.

During the information-sharing session, four key trends of routes undertaken by smugglers were spotted.

These are from Africa to Southeast Asia to Bangladesh as "mis-declared" air cargo, from Malaysia and Indonesia to China through land borders with Thailand and Myanmar, reptiles like snakes, turtles, and iguanas sourced from Malaysia taken to Thailand and then to India through airlines and from Thailand to India using land borders with Myanmar, they said.

Over 50 seizures, including Hoolock Gibbons, exotic turtles, lizards, beavers, Moor Macquaques, dwarf mongooses, pygmy marmosets, dusky leaf monkeys and ball pythons were made in India by various agencies in 2022, the officials said.

Experts caution against keeping wildlife as pets because of the fear of zoonotic viruses that may spread among humans. They also warn that several of the exotic species from different habitats may turn into invasive species for the wildlife, killing them and driving them out of their habitats.

The Indian delegation that included officials from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence besides the CBI have found that smuggling of exotic wildlife into India has been "contained" due to constant vigil at airports, they said.

During the meeting, it was decided that a mechanism would be put in place to analyse seizures made across participating nations, identify transnational networks and plan coordinated action against kingpins by dismantling their networks and breaking the spine of their financial flows with enhanced utilisation of Interpol capabilities.

The participating countries, which are major biodiversity hotspots on the planet, also agreed to share criminal intelligence among themselves to identify middlemen, facilitate individuals and take action against them, they said.

CBI Director Praveen Sood had termed the trafficking of exotic species a "grave threat" in his inaugural address of the meeting and called for their conservation and protection through a combination of legal frameworks, enforcement mechanisms, international cooperation and community involvement.

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(Published 25 February 2024, 10:50 IST)

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