TT Talk – Persistent Wildlife Crime

Credit: Winston Tjia/Unsplash

Although TT has previously covered this subject, wildlife crime poses a serious danger to biodiversity, local and national economies, national and international security, and global health. The global pandemic raised awareness of new infectious diseases, 60% of which are zoonotic, or infectious diseases that can spread from animals to people, as well as the negative effects of wildlife crime and unrestricted trade.

Illegal wildlife trade

Wildlife crime is thought to cost between $7 and US$23 billion annually. The illegal wildlife trade frequently passes into the legitimate global supply chain, just like many other misdeeds or shortcomings that prey on the transportation sector, in part because of poor awareness and the demands of throughput. Where can the industry, therefore, turn for advice?

“trafficking of illegal wildlife is routinely completed through the legitimate global supply chain”

International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines

Following a proposal from Kenya, the IMO’s Facilitation Committee (FAL) decided in 2020 to create a set of IMO rules centred on the dangers associated with the illegal wildlife trade through the maritime supply chain. An unofficial working group composed of representatives from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), TRAFFIC, and United for Wildlife created new standards.

The IMO Guidelines, also known as FAL.5-Circ.50, are intended to promote more cooperation and coordination among all participants in the marine supply chain, on an international, regional, national, and port level, in order to prevent and stifle wildlife trafficking. A proposed modification to the FAL treaty, which is anticipated later this year, will advise that each contracting government set up a national policy to facilitate maritime transport to facilitate trade and counter illegal activity, such as wildlife trafficking.

Red Flag Indicator Compendium and guidance

TRAFFIC, a major non-governmental organisation that works internationally on legal and illegal trade in wild animals and plants, published “Red Flag Indicators: for Wildlife and Timber Trafficking in Containerized Sea Cargo” in cooperation with the working group to increase awareness of the threats throughout the global supply chain.

While explicitly presenting the known red flags through the maritime supply chain, including species-specific red flags, this comprehensive paper offers helpful advice. Its main objectives are to increase public awareness, advance education, and dismantle accountable criminal networks. The paper also offers significant takeaways from the larger supply chain in an effort to develop new, efficient barriers and a more difficult operating environment for criminal networks.

The information in the study is typical of the current threat and was gathered from a number of publicly accessible sources. The extensive study demonstrates that much of TT’s other messaging for those in the supply chain, such as raising awareness of corruption and behaviours related to misrepresentation, concealment, and fraud, is regrettably consistent. Also, there is thorough information on the types of wildlife items that are frequently trafficked as well as the methods and routes used. Because the criminal organisations supporting this activity are flexible, as is the case with many illicit enterprises, even the most effective mitigation measures must be actively watched and periodically revised to take into account the constantly shifting threat environment.

“the criminal organisations underpinning [wildlife trafficking] are agile”

Risks for the wider industry

Together with other global challenges and the general threat to biodiversity, the illegal wildlife trade puts supply chain counterparties at risk.

Evaluation of reputational risk is challenging. But, having your company’s name linked in the media to transporting illegal substances will unavoidably be detrimental. Trading along high-risk routes carrying goods connected to the trafficking of wildlife products could increase this, casting doubt on the availability or efficacy of due diligence measures.

There is a legal risk, for instance, because companies in the transportation industry have been sued for not having enough safeguards in place to make sure that shipments do not contain illegal substances.

Delays caused by inquiries could expose the economy to greater risk and result in the detention of shipments and equipment.

There is a significant risk to one’s health and safety because about 72% of new infectious illnesses are spread by wildlife and 60% are thought to be caused by animals. The transportation of wildlife products poses a risk of infectious disease dissemination to domestic and wild animals as well as humans in the countries of destination. The perpetrators are not interested in establishing even the most basic veterinary and sanitary procedures. Personnel may additionally come into contact with dangerous and poisonous animals in situations where live animals are transported.

Risks to security must be disregarded. The crooks responsible for animal trafficking closely monitor supply networks to spot any flaws. Any flaws found will be taken advantage of, virtually definitely expanding to other theft or illegal trades.

Steps for prevention

There is a list of precautions in the Red Flag Indicator report. Here, we outline a few doable, but not all-inclusive, measures that can be taken to lessen the risk of wildlife trafficking.

  • Risk assess your supply chain, identifying areas that might be vulnerable to illegal wildlife trade.
  • Develop and implement a zero-tolerance wildlife crime policy, including clear guidelines and procedures for employees, suppliers and other stakeholders to follow in the mitigation of the risks of illegal wildlife products.
  • Conduct due diligence on suppliers, counterparties (know your customer), and new employees. Extend searches to include any prior involvement in wildlife crime and ensure that suppliers have policies and procedures in place to prevent illegal trade.
  • Establish traceability Consider the general implementation of technologies to trace products from source to market and to monitor the supply chain for any potential illegal activity.
  • Establish a confidential reporting communication channel and encourage the reporting of suspicious activity.
  • Educate employees and counterparties about the dangers of wildlife crime, the importance of due diligence and how to recognise and report suspicious activity.
  • Collaborate with law enforcement and conservation organisations, working with relevant organisations to gather information, exchange best practices and support efforts to combat wildlife crime.
  • Regularly review and update processes, including supply chain procedures, to ensure they remain fit for purpose and relevant. Risks through the supply chain evolve, so staying agile is essential.

Supply chain counterparties must be aware of the hazard of wildlife crime and how the related criminals take advantage of legal channels to transit unlawful items if they are to consider mitigating these risks. The threat can be reduced by taking significant action and safeguarding local communities and biodiversity.

“Meaningful steps can be taken to minimise the threat, protecting biodiversity and local communities”

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Source: TT Club


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