Thailand forms alliance with Africa to fight wildlife trafficking

Thailand has formed an alliance with countries in southern Africa and South Asia to combat trafficking in wildlife and endangered species in an agreement reached during an international conference in Bangkok last week that focused on using science and technology to battle wildlife and forest crimes.

Thailand reached the agreement during the “Bangkok Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation for Addressing Wildlife and Forest Crimes and Attaining SDGs.” The SDGs are the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, and representatives from 30 countries participated in the conference.

“Under this plan, we will share information, innovative technology, and other resources to promote sustainable development in terms of natural resources and the environment. This is a goal that cannot be achieved alone,” said Pinsak Surasawadi, deputy chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The plan is an example of South-South cooperation, a term used by policymakers to describe partnerships and pooling of resources among developing countries to reduce dependence on aid from developed countries. Developing countries are sometimes referred to as the Global South.

The agreement is designed to forge cooperation between the three regional wildlife enforcement networks: ASEAN-WEN, The Lusaka Agreement Task Force, and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network. ASEAN-WEN comprises 10 countries in Southeast Asia, The Lusaka group has eight member countries in Africa, and the South Asia network has four in its region.

Thailand was the prime mover in creating ASEAN-WEN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network, and serves as its host country with its secretariat in Bangkok. The United States Agency for International Development helps support ASEAN-WEN.

The network also works with the CITES Secretariat (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), Interpol, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Bank Global Tiger Initiative, and civil society groups FREELAND Foundation, and TRAFFIC, among others.

Southern Africa is the largest source of illegal wildlife and endangered species being smuggled, and Asia is the leading destination and market.

The Kingdom has long been a smuggling transshipment point for illegal wildlife and endangered species because it is a major transportation hub in Southeast Asia with an immense amount of traffic. Its proximity to major markets in Asia for those goods also makes it attractive to smugglers.

The Kingdom has won praise from the United Nations, law enforcement and conservation groups in recent years because of its markedly improved enforcement against smugglers of wildlife and endangered species.