More than 50 municipal employees attend lectures on wildlife trade to refresh knowledge on trafficking
Training for civil servants latest move in fight against animal trafficking
Pupils and government workers are being educated on commonly smuggled wildlife species in a bid to stop the illegal transit of wild animals into the UAE.
Led by the Dubai branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the information programme is part of wider regional training for those who are deemed to be most effective in the fight to stop animal trafficking.
“We believe the exchange of information between source and destination countries is critical to combating wildlife trafficking," said IFAW regional director for MENA, Dr Elsayed Ahmad Mohammed.
“But this is in addition to training officers and employees to identify the species commonly traded and raising awareness of the techniques used by smugglers."
The UAE as a key transit route for traffickers, according to a recent global report on animal smuggling from the US Agency for International Development.
The training includes lectures on the most common species poached and trafficked for commercial exploitation, with examples of confiscated items, according to Kinda Jabi, communication officer at the IFAW in Dubai.
“The students and employees were all proactive in raising important questions on the accurate identification of wild animals and their products like ivory, fur and skin from reptiles and other endangered species,” she said.
Since 2009, UAE airports have ranked third in terms of the amount of smuggling cases recorded, with 117 cases between 2009-17.
Mounting evidence shows that traffickers are switching from physical markets to virtual ones, with wildlife cybercrime a key aspect of a recent global conference held by the IFAW in London.
Over just six weeks in four countries, IFAW identified advertisements for 11,772 endangered and threatened specimens worth more than £3 million (Dh14m).
Many endangered species are at a tipping point because of demand for their parts or due to trafficking for the live pet trade.
“The internet provides wildlife traffickers access to a vast international marketplace — one without borders and that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year,” said Tania McCrea-Steele, an international project manager with IFAW.
“Wildlife cybercriminals exploit the anonymity afforded to them online.
“Many online marketplaces and social media platforms are working hard to stop this but we all have a part to play. If we don’t buy, they don’t die.”
The IFAW is expanding its global community engagement programme in the hope of developing a public network capable of spotting suspicious signs of potential trafficking, and then reporting it to the relevant authorities.
In a 2014 IFAW report, Wanted — Dead or Alive, social media platforms and forums in China were found to be responsible for more than half the illegal trade in the country.
The UAE joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which covers the regulation and control of international trade, in 1990.