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Posts Tagged ‘international tiger forum’

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

Will Travers & Joanna Lumley

Last Thursday saw the culmination of months of work, events invariably incur high levels of stress in the lead up; Will everyone turn up? How will the auction go? And the big question, will we raise enough money to have made all the effort worthwhile?

It was indeed a labour of love and I am immensely proud to say, yes it was worth every moment spent in preparation, the mild hysteria during the day and the pain of putting my feet in heels for an extended period of time, we raised over £100,000 and we’re still totting up the figures!!! Once costs are accounted for the total will be split between the 3 NGO’s.

What made the evening such a success? I believe it was the collaborative dedication of all the people involved. I recall sitting in a small meeting room months ago with what was at the time just a group of like-minded people (and all strangers to me), Simon Clinton had a vision and his enthusiasm was infectious, he threw time, energy and brilliant people on board to move the project forward. The complementary nature of the three NGO’s involved led to a natural partnership and everyone got stuck in! Sourcing auction prizes, guests, venue, entertainment, wine and champers not to mention celebrities, all at minimal expense possible, is no easy task with the 3rd of March ever looming!

Then of course, there’s the food, I must confess, attending the tasting at the Mandarin Oriental stands out as a particular highlight. It was a tricky business deciding which of the exquisite five courses should be served to our 200 guests but I take pride in my thoroughness and ensured the final menu was a culinary delight.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

All the goody bags!

Another task delegated to EIA was the humble goody bag. Guests paying a hefty £300 expect a certain caliber within the tiger themed bag; clients of The Clinton Partnership generously contributed but where was the rest to come from? Two words. Cold calling. I have a deep-rooted fear of cold calling, is it just me? Perhaps it’s because I fear rejection, well no one likes to be dumped over the phone. Thankfully, after much personal procrastination the wonderful Café Direct and Lush jumped on the idea and generously donated 200 fabulous goodies, old EIA friends Iain Green and Laura Barwick did the same and my ego remained intact.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

The Thai Music Circle

And then the day itself, filling up the goody bags was executed with military position and table plans finalised. As soon as it hit 5.30 an army of people were on board to transform the room into an Asian paradise, whilst simultaneously transforming ourselves from shabby NGO staff to glamorous and elegant folk. The Thai Music Circle began to play, photographers from Hello and Ok were poised and the champagne was poured as the firsts guest arrived.

Show time.

My Asian roots led to me playing a role front of house, inspired by the idea to represent as many tiger range countries as humanly possible, it was a very novel honour to lead Buddhist monks from the Buddhapadipa temple through the tables of expecting guests to the stage to bless the tiger.

Tiger Gala. Credit Mike Daines

Virginia McKenna, Donal MacIntyre & Joanna Lumley

The celebrities had turned out, Donal MacIntyre did a fantastic job of hosting throughout the evening, alas Mr. Bailey did not make it but Joanna Lumley’s impromptu but powerful speech reminded everyone why they were there. I am in awe of the wonderful Nicholas Parsons, how he personally commanded the room full of, by this time, rather saturated guests. Extravagant auction prizes went to the highest bidder amidst plenty of cajoling from Mr. Parsons. The Malaysian drummers took people’s attention away from the food and to the stage, the fabulous Made Pujawati, captivated us with her Balinese tiger dance. Gauri’s dancers performed an exquisite Kathak dance, culminating in all artists sharing the stage, with a Chinese lion dance finale. It worked seamlessly, a shame it’s not mirrored politically.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAidBy midnight my ratio of strictly working vs. wine consumption tipped heavily towards the latter and I rested my sore feet satisfied that is was a job well done.

See The Londonist review of the night.

Something I am still in awe of is the generosity of individuals and companies despite the current age of austerity. Here are my hearty thanks to the following companies who contributed to our fantastic evening, Pangkor Laut Resort, Air Asia, Arsenal, Jacob’s Creek, Laurent-Perrier, Easter & Oriental Express, The Ritz-Carlton, Cowdray Park Polo Club, YTL Hotels, Land Rover, Twining, encounters asia, Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Thyme at Southdrop, Samara, Vintage Roots, Texture, Tiger Beer, Real Digital International, Café Direct, Tiger J’s Chocolate, theWildGarlic, Kit Digital, Chewton Glen.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

Liz Bonnin & other tiger friends.

To individuals I would like to thank, Betty Yao, Zehan Verden, Ralph Dixon, Jimmy Choo, Ching-He Huang, Bill Oddie, Simon Lycett, Ronni Ancona, Alistair McGowan, Gary Hodges, Iain Green, Laura Barwick, Frances Jarvis, Joanna Lumley, Donal MacIntyre, Nicholas Parsons, Christy Symington, Laura Lian, Chris Wright, Steve Cawston, Liz Bonnin, Virginia McKenna, Rob Murray.

To our entertainers, Gauri Sharma Tripathi and her dancers, Made Pujawati, Thai Music Circle, Lim’s Martial Arts and a special thank you to the monks from the Buddhapadipa Temple, London.

Tiger gala. Credit EIA

Sophia Cheng

Membership & Fundraising Officer

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Credit www.theawl.comYou’ll probably have noticed that this week, the Oscars took place. In the end, I chose sleep over staying up to watch the ceremony (my tolerance for sleep deprivation has, er, “decreased in inverse proportion” to my age). But as the fallout settles, I’ve been thinking about the movies.

Take the idea of a film script; say it’s a film about environmental crime. (The message flashes up at the beginning: “this is a true story…”) This film script has many scenes, over the course of which, a story develops. Then there’s the cast – all of whom have different roles with varying depths of involvement. Some only have bit parts – but their appearance might nevertheless be central to the plot – and then there are some that are present throughout.

The location of each scene depends on the characters’ particular activities (the forest, the tannery, the border crossing). The actors need “props” to carry out their roles, ranging from traditional traps to firearms, helicopters with obscured registrations and satellite phones.

With all this activity, we need to remember what binds the script and story together, changing hands on its complicated and covert journey from origin to destination. Whether it’s rhino horn, elephant ivory, tiger skin…I’ve realised that my favourite character would already be dead before the film starts.

This isn’t just a metaphor, but another way of looking at crime. For several years now, criminologists like Derek Cornish have been developing “crime scripts” which identify and isolate what criminal actors require to perfectly execute their parts –in terms of both tools and (spoken like a true thespian) “motivation”.

Each activity is broken down into “acts” like in a play or the scenes in our film. Reading through, you get a sequential chain of criminal decisions and behaviours, along with what is required to undertake each act successfully. So if the poaching of a tiger is one act or scene, to “perform” the act successfully, preparation activities are inherent: poachers gather local intelligence about tiger sightings; they identify the water holes the tiger has frequented; they block paths to all water holes but one, then poison water in the remaining hole, and so on.

So when you have your entire crime script – from poaching to end market – and the culmination of all of these acts, preparation activities and facilitators, you can identify intervention points throughout and say, “there’s a point where we can make a change”; and so, we hope, re-write the outcome of the film.

It might not be a typical “happy ending” – but at least one in which criminals are identified, investigated and prosecuted. Then, there will be other interventions that can deter – or even recruit into conservation.

At EIA, we believe it’s fundamental that the complexity of criminal networks is recognised – along with their ability to react, mutate and recover from enforcement efforts. Ultimately, crime is great at survival. Enforcement needs to be sensitive to this reality. Enforcement shouldn’t, for example, be “scripted” to the extent that law enforcement actions are announced publicly, in advance of being carried out! 1

PIcture 1 - Copyright EIA

Picture 1

Neither should enforcement be content with arresting a courier or a trader and saying “job done”. Think about a criminal network, or some of the actors in our film. In the first picture, each person is a white bubble and their associations with each other are the blue links. Fair enough; but it doesn’t tell us much more than that. So, instead of going in blind and arresting the visible (and therefore probably superficial) members of the network, ensure your investigation is tailor-made for the appropriate target.

Result A  Copyright EIA

Result A

Maybe you need to target the people who control the flow of information into a network. These people are the “gatekeepers”; in Result A, they are bubbles flagged in red and then in pink (and so on in decreasingly darker shading, until those people with the least control over information). This can include people who can block those on the periphery communicating with more centrally placed individuals.

If however, you want to identify the people who have the best access to other parts of the network, then you get a slightly different result (Result B). Or, if you want to identify the people who have the strongest links within the network due to their links with well-connected people (these are “people who know people” and likely extremely influential), then it’s Result C, which is different again.

Result B copyright EIA

Result B

So where do you want to make the biggest impact? Do you want to disrupt, fragment or shatter the network? Identifying the different roles in a network provides subtly different options for developing an investigation, and a way of maximising limited resources. It enables the targeting of those players whose removal will most effectively halt criminal activity.

Result C Copyright EIA

Result C

Yes, networks will no doubt be more complicated than this example, and they can be loose and fluid, and not always easy to identify. But that’s where commitment and an intelligence-led approach comes in. And now world leaders have now made a commitment to protect wild tigers – let’s have a screenplay with a difference. Who wins the award for best enforcement?  Who’s writing the script anyway?

 

Charlotte Davies, Intelligence Analyst

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Davies

Intelligence Analyst

Reference 1 CITES Secretariat, Report by the CITES Secretariat on its verification and assessment mission to China, 28 March-7 April 2007, CoP14 Doc. 52 Annex 7 (2007)

 

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New Year Greetings one and all.  Here we go again. But before we do, I want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you – members, supporters, Facebook followers and Twitter fans – for taking an interest in EIA’s work and for lending your support wherever and whenever you can as EIA could not do this without you.

I can’t believe we’ve already said goodbye to another year.  Where do they go?  I have to admit that it’s been a struggle to drag my brain kicking and screaming back to the fray; the seasonal interlude seems like a distant memory already.  Business as usual and certainly our inimitable brand of investigation and campaigning will once again be in big demand. Operating as independent eyes and ears, prepared to say what needs to be said, constantly raising the bar and setting new benchmarks and expectations for key governments and decision makers, we have a number of key targets for the coming year.

As the Year of the Tiger draws to a close in February, it remains to be seen whether the adoption of the St Petersburg Declaration and the Global Tiger Recovery Program in November 2010 will set tigers in the wild on the road to recovery, doubling the tiger population by 2022 which is the ambitious goal. EIA will continue to monitor and assess whether the political promises made have been turned into action or whether they are just lip service.

2011 Year of Forests. Credit Jason Cheng

Will forests be smiling in 2011?

Whilst 2011  has been earmarked as international Year of Forests, we have our work cut out for us in pushing through EU legislation to ensure that the wood products that reach our markets are indeed legal and not laundered as is so often the case. 2011 should also see the publication of our extensive investigation into Britain’s illegal e-waste trade with the aim of campaigning for change in the way we handle our e-waste and for improved enforcement of existing regulations. And of course our work combating illegal trade in ozone depleting substances continues, as do our efforts to protect Whales and Dolphins… Elephants continue to be under threat from poaching and illegal trade… EIA will be releasing the findings of a recent on-site investigation in China

Ivory products. Credit EIA

Ivory products.

which will demonstrate that large amounts of illegal ivory continue to flood into China – despite the fact that the Chinese authorities secured 60+tonnes in the official one-off stockpile sale back in 2009. Initial analysis indicates that rather than curb the market, the demand has actually increased. I’m tempted to say “told you so”, but that would be churlish. The list goes on…and whilst it may sometimes seem that we are simply plugging a hole in the dam, it’s important to remember that all efforts, no matter how small, do make a difference.

Save the Wild Tiger Forum - Dec 2010. Credit EIA

Save the Wild Tiger Forum - Dec 2010.

Keep an eye out for forthcoming events; following on from the RGS evening in there will be a Gala dinner on the 3rd March at the Mandarin oriental in Knightsbridge.  And following on from the success of the National Geographic film on EIA’s work on the Tiger Campaign, there are three more films in the pipeline.  Watch this space.

So, in signing off and in the words of Mark Twain, “New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Here’s to the year of the Bunnies.

Mary Rice. Credit EIA

Mary Rice

Executive Director

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Pangolin. S Megan 2007 - WikiMedia CommonsI’ve been reading about a pangolin trafficking operation, described in a recent report by TRAFFIC Southeast Asia1. Sabah Wildlife Department’s raid on a warehouse used by a pangolin trafficking syndicate recovered several logbooks used by the dealers. These books revealed that the criminals meticulously recorded their trafficking activities – being the details of approximately 22,200 pangolins, all of which they’d sourced and trafficked in less than two years. While providing a unique insight into the pangolin trade, this case really exemplifies what levels of organisation can be involved in wildlife trafficking.

And the status of pangolins, or scaly anteaters (see examples here) exemplifies the consequences of human encroachment, habitat degradation and destruction, over-hunting and poaching. Pangolins are poached because there are big markets for their body parts. Their characteristic scales are used in traditional medicine, their skins for clothing accessories, their meat for cuisine. There’s a variety of medicinal properties ascribed to pangolin derivatives, including pangolin foetus soup for sexual stamina. Perhaps the pangolin is a victim of not just human vanity and desire, but also of the human imagination.

When I began as an analyst I was started off in vehicle crime investigation. It’s considered a “volume crime” – chances are some of you are car-owners, so perhaps you’ve had a car stereo stolen – or even a whole car. Looking at volume crime is considered a good way to get analytical pups exploring trends, geographical clusters of crime, effects of the surrounding environment on incidence, and so on. Quite a lot of vehicle crime is opportunistic and depends heavily on the protection measures in place in particular locations. You could even call it “subsistence crime” as it involves stealing just enough from a vehicle to cover expenses like a drug habit, or stealing a car for a quick joy ride. Yet there’s also evidence suggesting large-scale, highly organised thefts to order, and a lucrative, transnational trade in stolen vehicles.

So if we’re looking for an example of volume crime in the wildlife trade, pangolins fit the bill. Certainly the pangolin trade is one of the starkest examples of the commodification of wildlife. They’re described as one of the most frequently-seized species in South East Asia. We’ve seen above that their body parts are put to multiple uses, and that there are different drivers for this demand: different industries all demand pangolin corpses. They are seized all over the region, both alive and dead, intact or in pieces, sometimes frozen for transportation purposes.  When seizures in excess of twenty tonnes are reported, as in Vietnam in early 2008, then this points to a lucrative, transnational trade of catastrophic proportions.

Poachers report that it’s increasingly difficult to find pangolins, and put this scarcity down to over-hunting. We know what happens next: when the “commodity” becomes rare, the price increases. This pushes up demand by bestowing a luxurious or elusive quality on to the product. Heightened demand drives more poaching, and the population crashes. This kind of scenario is reflected across the wildlife trade. It may help to explain why, by kilo, rhino horn is valued more highly than gold (gold being another natural substance that bewitches and fascinates us humans).

Tiger skin taken on an EIA investigation. Copyright EIALikewise during the Tiger Campaign investigation to China in 2009, EIA found that tiger skin traders were expecting greater demand – and therefore profits – for tiger skins traded in the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Interestingly, these traders were also aware that there were very few wild tigers remaining – yet didn’t appear to let the “endangered species” factor deter them. Likewise, some pangolin poachers have said they believe that pangolins will become extinct – whilst adding that they can’t stop their activities, because they are too well paid.

I’ve read that the genus name for pangolin, Manis, means a departed spirit or ghost, or a corpse. At the moment, this appears grimly apt.

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao
China’s Premier Wen Jiabao

EIA attended the recent International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg, Russia and heard Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speak about the fight to save the wild tiger, and advocating the need for a change in human behaviour.  If I were to make a New Year’s wish for 2011, it would be for something similar. For a change in human consciousness to value wild over captive, the living over the dead. Some of the potential solutions to illegal trade are familiar. But they appear constrained by equally familiar stumbling blocks, like lack of investment and capacity, corruption, lack of communication, lack of trust. Where else have we encountered these issues? Across the illegal wildlife trade, across continents – even across different forms of crime. Let’s campaign to make these issues the ghosts – instead of pangolins, tigers, forests, and ultimately, ourselves. I hope in 2011, you’ll join EIA for the journey.

Charlotte Davies, Intelligence Analyst

Charlotte Davies

Intelligence Analyst

Reference 1: Sandrine Pantel and Noorainie Awang Anak (2010). A preliminary assessment of pangolin trade in Sabah. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

For further information see also: Sandrine Pantel and Chin Sing Yun (ed.) (2009) Proceedings of the Workshop on Trade and Conservation of Pangolins Native to South and Southeast Asia, 30 June-2 July 2008, Singapore Zoo, Singapore. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

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World Leaders at the International Tiger Forum

World Leaders at the International Tiger Forum

On return from the International Tiger Forum, away from the celebrities, the press and the hype,  Debbie Banks reflects on where the tiger is left after St Petersburg.

“No matter how pragmatic your strategy, how robust your evidence or how loud you shout; at the end of the day when it comes to saving wild tigers, it’s down to the political will of the leaders of the countries that tigers live in. They’re the ones that can direct resources towards policies, projects and operations that will lead to more effective enforcement, community engagement and prevent habitat destruction.

That’s why, after 14 years in tiger conservation and the wild tiger population at a mere 3200 animals, I can’t help but feel just a teensy bit positive after hearing five Prime Ministers speak at the International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg, Russia. They have indeed committed to doubling the wild tiger population by 2022; the next Year of the Tiger.

There’s never been a high level summit for the tiger before and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin really set the tone of the summit by talking about the value of the wild tiger, the forests it lives in and what that means for humanity.

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao

He and his counterparts, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar and Laos PDR Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh all talked about the need to work together to save the tiger and end the tiger trade, with Wen committing China to “vigorously combat poaching, trade and smuggling of tiger products”. Music to our cynical conservationists’ ears.

Naomi Campbell & Ilya Lagutenko at the Tiger Forum

Naomi Campbell & Ilya Lagutenko at the Tiger Forum

The summit closed with a star-studded event hosted by Russia’s no.1 rock star Ilya Lagutenko and Naomi Campbell, with musicians from Malaysia and China. Putin spoke again about the tiger, from the heart and with humour, praising Leonardo DiCaprio for being a “real man” to persist in his efforts to get the concert despite two aircraft-related near-disasters. And one of the tiger’s real heroes, forest inspector, Anatoly Belov was honoured for his tiger protection efforts.

Earlier in the week the technical nitty gritty arising from 12 months of discussions was concluded with the formal adoption of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), and the formal launch of the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

With a shortfall of $350m to implement the GTRP and ICCWC, tiger range countries had arrived in St Petersburg expecting the international community to put the money on the table; apart from India, which is investing well over a $1bn in tiger conservation over the next five years.

In the same week that an $80bn bailout was announced for the Celtic tiger, the donor community squirted out a measly $332m to save Asia’s tigers. It’s a paltry sum and much of it tied to climate and forest-related activities, some of it is in the form of loans, and only a little of it available for emergency enforcement responses. Nonetheless, it’s a start. It’s what happens now that the summit is over that is really important.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Of course, there are immediate actions governments can take that are low cost and will go a long way to reversing the tigers fortunes. We believe that if the leaders take the following steps it will instil confidence in the public and donors that this Year of the Tiger marks that much-needed gear change in political will; which in turn could generate more financial support.

1) As a matter of priority, the leaders of tiger countries must broadcast a message to the nation, declaring their commitment to double the tiger populations and engage their public, the entire government and industry in the task. This would be a sign that the promises made in St Petersburg were real, and it won’t cost them a penny.

Tweeting from the Forum, Debbie Banks & Will Travers

Tweeting from the Forum, Debbie Banks & Will Travers

2) The leaders can demonstrate their commitment to ending the tiger trade by:

  • Immediately instructing all law enforcement agencies to provide intelligence on criminals engaged in the tiger trade to their INTERPOL National Central Bureau;
  • Assigning a senior police investigator in the INTERPOL National Central Bureau to work on tiger / wildlife crime on a fulltime basis;
  • Calling a round-table of the highest level decision-makers in police and Customs to ensure the right people attend a forthcoming tiger trade seminar and that wildlife crime is placed on the curricula of their training academies.

3) The leaders can send a clear signal to consumers of tiger parts that there will be zero tolerance on trade and they can remove any reason for speculation on the part of tiger farmers by:

  • Destroying stockpiles of tiger parts and derivatives;
  • Taking enforcement action to close down operations that leak parts and derivatives of captive bred tigers on to the market place.

Simples!

Come and hear more about the summit from EIA, Born Free and WildAid, and how together we can turn words into action at the Saving Wild Tigers Forum on 7th December, 8.30pm at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR.

For more information click here and for tickets click here

For a copy of EIA’s latest report Enforcement not Extinction: Zero Tolerance on Tiger Trade, please click here.


Debbie Banks, Senior  Campaigner

Debbie Banks

Senior Campaigner

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