The Kasemkij’s Cape and Kantary regional hotel chain joined the Fin Free Thailand campaign this week, vowing never to serve shark fin soup on the menus of their 17 hotel-strong chain. The entire Kasemkij Group joined the consumption reduction campaign which continues to grow, bringing the total of prominent hotels and restaurants joining the campaign to 99. The event landed during the Lunar New Year celebrations across Asia, a time common for consumption of shark fin soup. Fin Free Thailand is a partner of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program (ARREST). The campaign, which launched one year ago during the Lunar New Year, continues to gain strength and momentum in Thailand and has recently received partnership requests looking at expanding the campaign regionally.
On January 18, Fin Free Thailand hosted a Shark Conservation Awareness event on Koh Chang, Thailand’s 2nd largest island. Nearly one year since the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program supported the launch of Fin Free Thailand; the consumption reduction campaign continues to gain strength with nearly 100 prominent hotels and restaurants pledging to never sell shark fin soup at their establishments. Many private sector organizations contributed to the event in Koh Chang by hosting the event and providing lots of prizes for those attending. One of the main highlights of the event was a shark sandcastle competition drawing contestants of all ages. The crucial partnerships between the private sector and Fin Free not only broaden the reach of the campaign but also help to sustain it.
Education for Nature-Vietnam(ENV), a partner of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program, held a wildlife trade exhibit in Ho Chi Minh City on January 17, 2014. ENV’s seconded wildlife consumption reduction exhibit of the year attracted more than 200 hundred visitors. The event focused on reducing consumer demand in Vietnam for tiger bone glue, an illegal, sticky substance often used for traditional medicine applications. Participants were also engaged to complete a quiz about illegal wildlife consumption and learn about wildlife conservation
On January 6, 2014, members of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program (ARREST) team presented Wildscan to the Mobile Solutions for Development Workshop at the Regional Development Mission Asia’s Regional Training Center in Bangkok, Thailand. Wildscan is an endangered species identification and response smartphone application currently under development with an anticipated release of spring 2014. The application will help wildlife law enforcement officials to correctly identify endangered species, temporarily care for species found in trafficking until experts arrive and report wildlife crime to regional to other law enforcement counterparts of their choice. ARREST’s Wildscan presentation was one of many highlights of the workshop, which brought stakeholders from the private and non-governmental sectors currently developing mobile technology solutions to foster development in Asia. The Mobile Solutions workshop also provided a very unique platform to explore collaboration opportunities between diverse organizations that may not have met otherwise. ARREST continues to build partnerships with tech companies such as vimi.co to develop Wildscan and other program initiatives, to achieve greater impact and ensure sustainability.
In January, Education for Nature-Vietnam, a partner of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program (ARREST), continued to hang banners at high-traffic markets encouraging the public to refrain from consuming wildlife. The banners are now displayed at nearly 30 markets in the country’s larger cities of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. The campaign, which aims to raise awareness among both customers and shop owners, features photos on the banners showing animals commonly exploited in Vietnam including tigers, bears and rhinos. The banners also advertise ENV’s wildlife crime hotline number and encourage people to report wildlife crime.
From December 16-18, 2013 International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) supported a law enforcement workshop in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, an area which borders 8 Asian countries is known for wildlife trafficking. 120 participants joined the event organized by the Urumqi office of the Chinese CITES Management Authority (CNMA) and focused on the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and techniques and skills of combating wildlife trafficking. IFAW staff also gave lectures on the development and trends of global wildlife trafficking, identification of key endangered species and an overview of illicit product commonly found in trafficking. The training was held in an important area as not only is Xinjiang know for the trafficking of endangered Saiga antelopes and pangolins but new evidence shows an increase in the smuggling of ivory through the region. IFAW is a partner of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program and assists with implementing the program in China.
On December 21, Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok hosted the Fin Free Charity concert in support of the Fin Free Thailand campaign. The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Patrick Murphy spoke at the event and helped celebrate the group’s work in reducing the shark fin trade in Thailand. Thanks to the Fin Free Thailand campaign with support from the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program, more than 90 prominent hotels have removed the controversial ingredient from their menus. More than 100 million sharks are killed each year, many of them for their fins alone and often very inhumanely, and several species are now nearing extinction.
On December 12, 2013 Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Biodiversity Conservation Authority (BCA) unveiled its official work plan on reducing consumption of wildlife. The BCA unveiled the plan at a consultation meeting to government officials and NGOs in Hanoi, soliciting feedback before the plan is made final. Initiated with support from the World Bank, through a Global Environment Facility $1 million grant, the BCA plan makes strong links to the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program’s “iTHINK” campaign support platform, which utilizes local organizations and Key Opinion Leaders to deliver continuous messaging on the illegal wildlife trade. The ARREST Chief of Party, who is now advising BCA on the plan, presented “iTHINK” at the consultation meeting. The BCA plan will also include elements on policy and legal reform, as well as enforcement. The “Wildlife Consumption Project” is due to evolve into a longer term program into which the Vietnamese Government will invest financial and technical resources to reduce cross border wildlife trafficking and domestic consumption for at least the next 3 years. The iTHINK campaign continues to grow and encourages people to refrain from consuming wildlife throughout the region; it has been running in Thailand since March and recently launched in China.
On behalf of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program, a special agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presented wildlife trade dynamics and supply and demand drivers at the USAID Partners Meeting on Value Chains and Zoonotic Pathogens, part of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) Program. The presentation focused on the common routes used by traffickers and the links between the routes, the animals trafficked and the potential for infectious diseases to be carried across borders. Illicit wildlife products especially live animals for the pet trade and food, constantly cross borders destined for consumer markets. The presentation highlighted case studies of such instances, one included a trafficker smuggling a live non-human primate (NHP), well known to have high risk of disease transmission to humans, from Asia to the U.S. on commercial airlines exposing many people to possible infection. Animals such as birds, mammals and NHPs are all common in wildlife trafficking and all pose potential risk of transmitting infectious disease to humans. ARREST will continue to collaborate with the EPT Program to further discuss links between potential disease spread and wildlife trafficking and best practices and collaboration opportunities to cooperatively address the issue.
Posted in ARREST
From December 3 through 5, 2013, the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program joined the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in presenting to more than 100 judges and representatives of courts, environment ministries, prosecutor’s offices, lawyers from Asia and the Pacific during the Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment in Manila. The meeting saw the formal launch of the Asian Judges Network on Environment, which is now focusing on “Natural Capital, the Rule of Law and Environmental Justice”. ARREST, USAID, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Court and U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers led discussions that linked Natural Capital to the illicit wildlife trade. “Natural Capital” is the stock of natural assets and resources including forests and oceans that can provide ecosystem services such as food and other valuable resources. The resources provided by natural capital are essential to all human life and lie at the foundation of many economies. “Chief Justices and their senior judiciary play a critical role in improving environmental enforcement and strengthening the rule of law,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) General Counsel Christopher Stephens. “They can champion and lead the rest of the legal profession, the law enforcement community, and broader public toward rule of law systems that promote environmental justice.” ARREST was cited during the symposium as effectively combating wildlife trafficking which helps to protect natural capital. The symposium was hosted by ADB in partnership with the Supreme Court of Philippines, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) USAID and Freeland.
Posted in ARREST