Home News Anti-Poaching Serious Wildlife trafficking in South Pacific Gets Much Needed Enforcement Attention 

Serious Wildlife trafficking in South Pacific Gets Much Needed Enforcement Attention 

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) is committed to fighting wildlife crime, and effective law enforcement, informed by investigative work and information sharing, is essential to tackling the illegal trade and trafficking.  

Recent investigations and a new report reveal high volumes of wild animals being trafficked through the Sulu-Celebes seas shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines – pointing to the need for cross border enforcement collaboration, which is now underway. Forty officers attached to 28 agencies across these three countries, formed an informal counter-wildlife trafficking enforcement network in early May, part funded by DSWF, focusing on interdictions, caring for and repatriating seized animals, and tracking persons and companies that are financially sponsoring these wildlife crimes. 

Government operations and seizures in the three countries reveal that organised wildlife crime syndicates are trafficking large quantities of sea turtles, sharks, pangolins, wild birds, giant clams, and more. Sources of Freeland, a counter-trafficking group supported by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, point to Indonesia being a major target of traffickers, with the Philippines and Malaysia also suffering from global commercial demand for their biodiversity. 

Devastatingly, a new study by the monitoring organisation, Traffic, reports over 25,000 live animals and over 120,000 tons of wildlife, parts, and plants seized from illegal trade in this area between June 2003 and September 2021. These spanned hundreds of species and included marine as well as terrestrial wildlife. 

Image credit: Theo Bromfield

The report highlights the deeply interconnected nature of illegal wildlife trade in this region. It argues that solutions must involve greater inter-agency and transboundary cooperation, particularly when it was reported that these high number of seizures resulted only in a low number of successful convictions.   

Our frontline conservation partners have been tracking the cross-border nature of the illegal trade in the region, with government counterparts confirming that a significant amount of the trade in birds, pangolins, shark fins, sea turtles, and other species are heading toward Vietnam and China, pointing to the specific need for wider regional counter wildlife crime collaboration.  

Through our support and vital funding, our partners were able to deliver National Counter-Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) training, with a major focus on breaking criminal supply chains.  The project culminated in a regional Special Investigation Group meeting earlier this month in Thailand, to develop a cross-border counter wildlife crime network.  

You can find out more about our law enforcement efforts here.

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Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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