By Keven Heath
The President of Gabon has called for the establishment of a United Nations Special Envoy on wildlife crime and a UN General Assembly resolution at a side meeting in New York yesterday. The Gabon hosted the meeting together with Germany and participants included major names from international wildlife organisations.
Present at the meeting was CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon who joined with Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in calling for more support and action from the international community.
In a press release from the CITES Secretariat the officials stated, “The nature of wildlife crime has also changed. Gunmen and flatbed trucks have been replaced by helicopters and potent automatic weapons. The animals in their sights have little chance in this gory pursuit for illicit profits. Behind the gun teams are sophisticated supply chains using modern technology, as well as bribes and corruption, to deliver animal parts to every corner of the earth.
Courageous, but underpaid park rangers are often outmanned, outgunned and outwitted in a deadly game of hide-and-seek with poachers. Ranger services have been retrained to spot illegal kills, but have had to call in the military to do their job.”
In many parts of the world the rangers do not have the support needed to combat professional poachers. This was highlighted dramatically a couple of weeks ago when two forest rangers were killed in Thailand. A forest patrol of 10 rangers had just 1 shotgun and 1 rifle between them. When they came up against 5 poachers armed with modern automatic weapons the outcome was inevitable. Due to that incident the Thai government has announced plans to arm and train all their forest rangers with modern weapons.
In Kaziranga National Park the Indian government has just announced that the parks forest rangers will be equipped with modern AK-47 assault rifles to help them combat increasingly well-arm poaching syndicates. More....