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24 October 2012

USAID funding for INTERPOL-led wild tiger protection campaign supporting South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network

THIMPU, Bhutan – The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is to provide an additional USD 719,000 in funding towards INTERPOL’s Project Predator to support the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) in protecting wild tigers.

The announcement by the US Ambassador to India and Bhutan, Nancy Powell, was made during the Second Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation co-organized by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Global Tiger Initiative.

Bringing together ministers from the 13 tiger range countries, who collectively endorsed the Saint Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation and Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) in 2010 in Russia, the four-day meeting (21 – 24 October) will focus on key achievements in implementing the 12-year strategy and also issue guidance on continuing momentum and ensure continued high-level political support.

“Protecting our living natural resources, especially endangered species, has increasingly become an issue impacting the security of nations because of massive upsurges in international wildlife trafficking.  We need to recognize wildlife crime as a serious crime that undermines good governance and rule of law," said Ambassador Powell.

Project Predator is an INTERPOL initiative designed to support countries in their governance and rule of law with respect to the conservation of wild tigers.  The project is developing governmental support by holding high level police, customs and wildlife enforcement seminars and encouraging the use of modern intelligence-led enforcement practices.

The manager of INTERPOL'S Environmental Crime Programme, David Higgins, said: “This additional financial support from USAID will assist INTERPOL's global and regional networks of national police and enforcement agencies in supporting the tiger range countries in their efforts to stop tiger poaching and the illegal trade in tiger parts and products, and target those criminals who are attempting to undermine efforts to conserve this iconic species."

Mary Melnyk, USAID’s Senior Advisor, Natural Resources Management for Asia and the Middle East, added; “USAID is supporting INTERPOL not only because of its international network and communications systems to track down criminals, but also to encourage the greater participation of police in cracking down on wildlife crime.”

In 2011 USAID provided USD 600,000 for the launch of Project PREDATOR which during the past year has provided assistance to Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, leading to nearly 40 arrests and the seizure of big cat skins, body parts and other wildlife products.