Project Predator works to enhance governance and law enforcement capacity for the conservation of Asian big cats and other wildlife species.
Tigers are on the brink of extinction. Of global concern, this issue has far reaching environmental, socio-economic and cultural consequences.
Today, the greatest threat to big cats comes from the criminals who control a highly lucrative illegal trade spanning countries and continents. Tigers and other Asian big cats are killed due to the high value of their fur on the black market and the demand for their body parts for traditional medicines and other uses.
This trade is becoming increasingly organized and is linked to other forms of serious crime such as bribery and corruption, financial crime, and trafficking in drugs, firearms and human beings.
The unprecedented scale and complexity of this type of crime demands a focused, organized and coordinated effort at regional, national and transnational levels.
The law enforcement response needs to engage the whole criminal justice system and employ a multi-disciplinary approach with the use of advanced, intelligence-led methods of investigation.
Project Predator works to increase communication, coordination and collaboration between high-level enforcement experts, managers from the Asian big cat range countries, and investigators and analysts working at ground level.
It encourages and supports INTERPOL member countries in targeting the individuals and networks who control the illegal trade, bringing them to justice and seizing any assets obtained through their crimes.
Project Predator analyses intelligence related to Asian big cat crime in order to identify:
- Criminals and criminal groups;
- Emerging trends;
- Gaps in enforcement responses.
Based on this assessment, a range of activities are designed and implemented. These include:
- Producing strategic and operational reports;
- Facilitating transnational intelligence-led operations;
- Coordinating capacity building events;
- Promoting multi-agency and multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Among the types of investigative support provided to member countries are:
- Analysis of telephone call records, documentation and other raw information;
- 24/7 access to cyber investigation capabilities;
- Digital forensic support in the form of extraction of information from portable devices;
- DNA forensic support in relation to seized wildlife products.
Access to INTERPOL’s policing capabilities
Project Predator provides a common platform for big cat range countries to access INTERPOL’s wide range of capabilities, including its secure police communications channel, system of Notices and many global databases.
Developing and promoting partnerships
Project Predator encourages countries to adopt a collaborative approach and supports the development of regional wildlife enforcement networks by:
- Promoting National Environmental Security Seminars (NESS);
- Encouraging the creation of National Environmental Security Task Forces (NEST);
- Strengthening SAWEN as an institution.
Between 2010 and 2015, Project Predator facilitated nine intelligence-led operations involving almost 50 countries.
These have resulted in more than 560 arrests and the seizure of more than 100 tigers or leopards, 56 tiger and leopard skins, hundreds of kilograms of big cat bones, 12.8 tonnes of ivory, almost 11 tonnes of pangolins, pangolin scales and pangolin meat, more than 2,500 turtles and tortoises and a variety of other wildlife including bears and bear parts, rhino horn, red pandas, reptiles and protected bird and plant species.
Dozens of operational meetings and training events have been held across South, Central and Southeast Asia. Training events have addressed a range of topics including crime scene investigation, questioning wildlife smugglers and intelligence analysis.
Countries and partners involved
Project Predator works closely with Asian big cat range countries, dedicated wildlife enforcement networks and law enforcement partners.
- Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
- Main funders: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US State Department.
- International organizations: The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- NGOs: International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), TRAFFIC, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Panthera, Freeland Foundation, the Snow Leopard Trust and the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP).