Project Predator was launched at the 80th INTERPOL General Assembly (31 October – 3 November 2011), in Hanoi, Vietnam.As one of the 13 tiger-range countries, Vietnam affords its tigers the highest levels of protection under law. The launch of the Project in this country provides a great platform for the development of the region’s response to tiger crime and other forms of wildlife crime.
Tigers are on the brink of extinction. There are only six species of tiger left in the world and fewer than 1,000 living tigers of each species. Only 13 countries have wild tiger populations. The greatest threat comes from criminals who control an illegal trade spanning countries and continents. Tigers are illegally killed or poached due to the high value of their fur on the black market, and their body parts are used in traditional medicines.The illegal trade in tigers is one of the most high profile, destructive and urgent forms of wildlife crime.
The enforcement response needs to employ advanced, intelligence-led methods of investigation and the engagement of the whole criminal justice system.The response must target the individuals who control this lucrative trade, bring them to justice, and seize any assets obtained through their crimes.
World leaders must acknowledge that if we cannot save the tiger, there is little hope of success in tackling other environmental challenges (see the report “ Enforcement Not Extinction” from the Environmental Investigation Agency, 2011).At INTERPOL, we have developed Project Predator to support and enhance governance and law enforcement capacity in tiger-range countries to improve the conservation of wild tigers.
Aims of Project Predator
The Project has three aims ( read project description):
- Organize collaborative, high-level international efforts to improve political will;
- Transform this will into departmental support;
- Train officers in the necessary skills.
The Project is not limited to the protection of tigers, but extends to the protection of all Asian “big cats”, since these species face similar threats. Protecting tigers will protect other Asian big cat populations as well, because the skins and body parts of leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards and Asiatic lions are traded in the same manner as tiger parts (see the EIA report “ Enforcement Not Extinction”).Objectives:
- Encourage communication, cooperation and collaboration with respect to intelligence exchange, cross-border investigations and training;
- Contribute to the apprehension of criminals and organized groups;
- Develop a global picture of the criminal activity affecting the ongoing conservation of tigers and Asian big cats.
A global objective is to help develop effective governance and rule of law and improve the quality of criminal justice responses to tiger crime.National Environmental Security Seminar for Tiger Range CountriesThe concept document on National Environmental Security Task Forces, developed by the Environmental Crime Programme with help from external partners, was presented to the tiger range countries last February during the Head of Police and Customs Seminar on Tiger Crime. Seizing the opportunity and the momentum the Environmental Crime Programme will be organizing a National Environmental Security Seminar to bring together national agencies and offices with environmental enforcement responsibilities. The ultimate goal of is seminars is to connect environmental law enforcement agencies and create a National Environmental Task Force (NEST) reinforcing the connection to INTERPOL and strongly supporting the fight against tiger crime. These task forces will encourage the use of modern intelligence-led enforcement practices for tiger conservation.
This is an ambitious, ongoing project continuously seeking support from individuals, organizations and institutions.If you are interested in helping INTERPOL protect these creatures, please contact us.
The Project will facilitate a range of activities, including:
- Hosting seminars for senior officials;
- Conducting side events at strategic INTERPOL conferences and meetings;
- Developing a curriculum for teaching investigative and intelligence gathering skills;
- Establishing National Tiger Crime Task Forces;
- Gathering and analysing intelligence;
- Stimulating intelligence-led investigations and enforcement activities;
- Advocating the Project through the media and other partners.
Information and Intelligence Management - Environmental Enforcement Course, 17-21 December 2012, Nepal: INTERPOL and National Central Bureau Kathmandu, in strong collaboration with the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network, organized a training course on information and intelligence management in environmental enforcement. The event was attended by 28 senior environmental law enforcement officials from 11 Asian countries. The aim of the course was to improve environmental law enforcement capacity in the region, with a specific focus on illegal poaching and the illicit trade in tigers and other Asian big cats. Read the media release
2nd Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, 20-24 October 2012, Thimphu, Bhutan: The Royal Government of Bhutan hosted the Second Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation on 22-24 October 2012. The Saint Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation mandated occasional high-level meetings to review and approve the Global Tiger Recovery Program's priority directions. The ministerial meeting was co-sponsored by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Global Tiger Initiative Secretariat.
National Environmental Security Task Force initiative (N.E.S.T), 18 September 2012: AMMAN, Jordan – INTERPOL has officially launched its National Environmental Security Task Force (NEST) initiative at the 21st INTERPOL Asian Regional Conference before 150 officials from 40 countries.
The initiative aims to establish a common platform and approach worldwide for national compliance and enforcement responses, so as to enhance both national and international efforts on ensuring current and future environmental security.
In this respect, the initiative will see INTERPOL call upon its 190 member countries to structure and equip themselves with the necessary tools in a multi-agency manner by working towards the establishment of NESTs involving law enforcement, customs, environmental agencies, prosecutors and other specialist agencies.
The guide on forming and sustaining a National Environmental Security Task Force was made possible mainly with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) and the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK DEFRA).
Operation Prey Phase I, 21 May-1 June 2012: Operation Prey Phase I, conducted between 21 May and 1 June 2012, was a regional law enforcement operation to combat the illegal exploitation of the Tiger (Panthera tigris) under Project Predator.Operation Prey, conducted across Bhutan, China, India and Nepal with the involvement of government agencies including police, customs, national/local or provincial wildlife enforcement authorities and other relevant government authorities. During the operation, an intelligence-led approach was encouraged, in addition to other internationally focused advanced investigation methods. Some information acquired from the operation was shared effectively by some of participating countries with INTERPOL. Throughout the operation, 38 arrests and 278 seizures of big cat skins and other body parts, as well as wildlife goods such as rhino horns, ivory and sea horses in addition to flora such as protected orchid and cactus plants were reported.
GTRP Stocktaking Meeting at the level of Senior Officials and Experts, New Delhi, India, 15-17 May 2012 :The Stocktaking Meeting will review the progress of GTRP implementation and discuss directions for priority actions in the next two years, with recommendations for subsequent Ministerial-level decisions. The meeting will also review mechanisms for effective collaboration between new and on-going projects, as well as the targets for further resource mobilization at international and country levels. More information about the meeting will be available in the coming weeks
Head of Police and Customs Seminar on Tiger Crime Bangkok, Thailand, 13-14 February 2012: The involvement of senior officers from the law enforcement community is vital to the implementation of the Declaration made by Heads of Governments at the Global Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in November 2010, to eradicate poaching, smuggling and the illegal trade of tigers.The Seminar will bring together the heads of police and customs agencies from the 13 countries with wild tigers. It will explore how the region’s law enforcement agencies can work to prevent tigers disappearing as a result of criminal activities, and how their efforts can best be supported by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).As well as introducing Project Predator, the Seminar will aim to:
- Raise institutional awareness of the impact that criminals have on the existence of wild tigers and the way in which organized criminal networks are robbing countries of their natural resources;
- Identify the needs of police and customs agencies in their fight against wildlife crime;
- Share expertise, make recommendations and develop enforcement strategies to tackle tiger, wildlife and forest crime;
- Enhance national, regional and international communication, cooperation and collaboration between police and customs agencies with respect to combating wildlife crime;
- Announce the collective measures and responses to addressing tiger, wildlife and forest related crime in the region.
- Outline the support that can be provided by the ICCWC;
Speakers will include senior representatives of the Royal Thai Government, INTERPOL, World Customs Organization, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank.Experts in the fields of wildlife law enforcement and tiger conservation will make presentations and facilitate discussions.
Operation Tigre, 9 August – 18 September 2010: Operation TIGRE was launched to target the illegal trade in tigers, their parts and derivatives. The commercial trade in tigers is illegal worldwide under national laws.There was much attention placed on the plight of the world’s tigers in 2010. In the Chinese calendar, it was the Year of the Tiger. In addition, a summit was held in November 2010, in St Petersburg, Russia, that was attended by senior government representatives of the tiger range countries.The operation was conducted in six countries and resulted in the arrest of more than 25 people.
Message from President Robert B. Zoellick of the World Bank Group
- UK DEFRA
- UK National Wildlife Crime Unit
Tiger-range countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Kenya and South Africa will also act as champion (mentoring) countries.