Lessons Learned from Programs to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade

Lesson-Learning at the Global Wildlife Program (GWP)_National Project Level

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Lessons Learned from Programs to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade

June 20, 2023

In "Lessons Learned from Programs to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade," a collaborative effort between the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) and the World Bank, valuable insights have been gathered from various initiatives combating illegal wildlife trade (IWT). The document emphasizes the significance of collaboration, effective project design, and overcoming challenges in addressing IWT. Case studies from Bhutan, Cameroon, Indonesia, and Thailand provide real-world examples of both successes and obstacles encountered in implementing anti-IWT programs. This blog aims to inspire and guide individuals working to combat illegal wildlife trade by highlighting the importance of collaboration, effective project design, and drawing lessons from past experiences.

Thailand is home to a group of unsung heroes known as wildlife forensic scientists, who play a crucial role in conserving endangered species by fighting against wildlife crime. In this blog, we embark on a brief journey through Thailand's remarkable success story, shedding light on the significance of wildlife forensic science and uncovering a captivating career path that remains largely unknown.

Like many countries, Thailand faces an ongoing threat from illegal wildlife trade. To confront this issue head-on, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) partnered with IUCN and UNDP to launch a national project focused on combatting illegal wildlife trafficking. This initiative primarily targeted the smuggling of ivory, rhino horn, tigers, and pangolins. Thailand's fight against wildlife crime has revealed a valuable lesson: the transformative power of DNA testing.

Thailand's success in combating wildlife crime is exemplified by its innovative approach to DNA testing. Through the implementation of a national DNA database and the requirement for captive tigers to have their DNA collected, Thailand has revolutionized monitoring and prevention efforts. DNA data enables authorities to closely track captive tigers, significantly reducing the likelihood of their involvement in illegal trade. Moreover, it acts as a potent deterrent for zoo owners. Thailand's proactive approach in establishing a DNA testing system ahead of legislation ensures operational readiness and seamless implementation. These accomplishments underscore the crucial role of wildlife forensic science in safeguarding endangered species and inspire others to explore this rewarding career path.