The National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Collaboration Group (NICECG) of China today was hailed by head of the United Nations-backed convention on endangered species for its effort to fight wildlife trafficking.
The NICECG was awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John E. Scanlon.
The Chinese organization reportedly carried out two nationwide operations this year to successfully combat wildlife crime.
Reports say over 100,000 enforcement officers were mobilized in the offensive against wildlife crime carried out by the group.
The organization was set up in December 2011 to facilitate the collection and exchange of intelligence, enhance capacity building, and coordinate joint enforcement activities.
According to CITES, During the Forest Police Operation, more than 700 cases of illegal wildlife trade were uncovered; 7,155 illegal wildlife stalls and shops as well as 628 illegal online wildlife shops were shut down; 520 websites believed to offer for sale illegal wildlife were closely monitored; and 13 wildlife-related criminal networks were dismantled, among other achievements.
Meanwhile, the Customs Authorities Operation led to the arrest of 13 suspects and the seizure of large quantities of ivory, red sandal wood, yew timber and antelope horns.
Mr. Scanlon said the sheer scale, extent of coordination, and level of success of these intelligence-driven operations exemplify the coordinated enforcement effort that is required at the national and sub-national levels to combat wildlife crime successfully.
Mr. Scanlon presented the Certificate of Commendation at a CITES meeting in Guangzhou, China.
NICECG was set up by China in December 2011 to act as an intelligence gathering operation and also to provide capacity building for local enforcement organisations and to co-ordinate national operations.
The Chinese organisation comprises a range of government departments including the State Forestry Administration, the Ministry of Public Security, the General Administration of Customs, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Administration of Industry and Commerce.
CITES is administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). CITES noted that the Chinese organization serves as “a model at the provincial level.
Reports say that an immense, increasingly sophisticated illegal trade in wildlife parts conducted by organized crime, coupled with antiquated enforcement methods, are decimating the world’s most beloved species including rhinos, tigers, and elephants on a scale never before seen.
Much of the trade is reportedly driven by wealthy East Asian markets that have a seemingly insatiable appetite for wildlife parts.
Organized crime syndicates using sophisticated smuggling operations have penetrated even previously secure wildlife populations. Some of the elaborate methods include: hidden compartments in shipping containers; rapidly changing of smuggling routes; and the use of e-commerce whose locations are difficult to detect.