International collaboration and public support was needed to defeat wildlife trafficking, Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Kanjanarat said yesterday.
“The Thai government has continued making tremendous efforts and serious actions to combat these transnational crimes. However, no matter how much we do by ourselves at the national level, it is never enough,” Surasak told the 4th regional dialogue on combatting trafficking of wild fauna and flora in Bangkok.
“Only through the spirit of collaboration among Asean member states, China and a concerned partnership in an action-oriented effort, can this problem be effectively addressed throughout the entire supply chain,” he said.
It was also emphasised that a one-sided effort to tackle wildlife trafficking could not be successful unless the public engages in the effort by being more aware of the issue and refrains from consuming wildlife products.
Surasak told the conference, hosted by the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, that despite the strong effort to suppress the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, the international criminal network of wildlife trafficking still existed because of the high demand for rare wild flora and fauna.
Although Thailand was not the main market for the illegal wildlife trade, delegates were told that the country was a major transport route for wildlife smuggling in ivory and rhino horns from Africa to China and pangolin from Indonesia to China.
Surasak said wildlife trafficking techniques were constantly changing. He said that in Thailand, as the authorities cracked down on wildlife trafficking networks, traffickers used social media, which gave the anonymity and speed of online transactions to further criminal activities.
“We are also trying to develop our strategies as well. We have the Wild Hawk, or ‘Yiaw Dong’ in Thai, special task force to deter the online illegal wildlife trade and we can arrest many offenders for their online crimes,” he said.
Cambodian Wildlife and Biodiversity Department deputy director Kry Masphal said wildlife trafficking in Cambodia was also growing more complex, as trafficking activities had changed to a smaller scale, making it more difficult to detect and arrest perpetrators.
“This is why we have to cooperate with our neighbouring countries to deter these criminals, as they are internationally linked. We have to collaborate with our neighbours to deal with them,” Kry said.
Surasak said official operations alone could not suppress the crime and the public had to get involved to stop wildlife trafficking.
“This crime exists because there is a demand for wildlife products and the criminals can make a large profit. People have to realise this truth and stop using wildlife products. This way we can topple this international crime network,” he said.