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Geneva, 28 November 2011 – The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John E. Scanlon, praised today INTERPOL and the World Bank for the launching of Project Predator, a global enforcement initiative to protect and save the world’s last surviving wild tigers.
“We are heartened by this initiative which has our full support”, said Mr Scanlon. “The work of INTERPOL and the World Bank, and the collective efforts of the International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime, is critical to the effective implementation of CITES measures for the protection of tigers”, he added.
A Siberian tiger
Protected from international commercial trade through a listing in CITES Appendix I since 1975, tigers still suffer significantly from illegal trade. They are primarily poached for their skins but almost every part of a tiger’s body can be used for decorative or traditional medicinal purposes. Most tigers are now restricted to small pockets of habitat, with several geographical populations literally teetering on the brink of extinction.
The Project will provide capacity building to law enforcement agencies to combat illegal trade and other tiger-related crimes, strengthening their ability to work with wildlife officials using advanced, intelligence-led methods of investigation. The International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime will further complement Project Predator through a Heads of Police and Customs Seminar on Tiger Crime to be held in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2012.
This new partnership under the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) brings together officials from the 13 tiger range countries, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institution and INTERPOL. The CITES Secretariat has played a major role with regard to enforcement-related issues in the GTI, which is supported by the World Bank. Under the strong leadership of its President Robert Zoellick, the World Bank has played a catalytic role in the development of Project Predator.
In the early 1900s, tigers were found throughout Asia and numbered over 100,000. Current estimates indicate that less than 3,200 of these remain in the wild.
Captain Ben Janse Van Rensburg, who will be joining the CITES Secretariat in mid-December as the new Chief Enforcement Officer, will be the CITES focal point for Project Predator.
The International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime is a joint initiative of the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, and World Customs Organisation.
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