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Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is also the lead implementing partner of “ARREST” (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), the largest US Government sponsored counter-wildlife trafficking program. For more info, visit www.freeland.org also; follow Freeland on twitter @FREELANDpeople or www.facebook.com/freelandfoundation.
Latest Press Releases
Research Shows Airline and Airport Officials Colluding with Traffickers Mass seizures of pangolin scales like this illustrate the scope and sophistication of the illegal wildlife trade through airports. Photo credit: Kayleigh Ghiot/Freeland BANGKOK, March 20, 2017 – Last week’s two revelations that US$8 million worth of poached African rhino horn being smuggled through Southeast Asian […]
Attorney General Implicates Senior Official in Last Week’s Rhino Horn Haul Customs officers seized 50 kilos of rhino horn and implicated government official Photo credit: Kayleigh Ghiot/Freeland BANGKOK, March 17 – In a major move against the corruption that facilitates wildlife trafficking, Thailand’s Attorney General Pongniwat Yutthapanborikarn announced that a senior official is being moved […]
Enforcement Drive Snares 11 Major Criminals including Corrupt Officials and Business Executives Key syndicate members behind massive trafficking of poached elephant tusks and pangolins to Asia have been arrested in Africa. Photos: Freeland. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC), February 8, 2017 – Long on corruption and short on arrests and convictions of kingpins, the […]
Vital link on supply chain of major crime syndicate shipping pangolins from Africa to Asia is exposed Customs officer holds up handful of pangolin scales at press conference in Bangkok. Photo: Freeland/Kayleigh Ghiot BANGKOK, February 2, 2017 – In the largest seizure of pangolin scales to ever take place in Thailand, Customs officers confiscated […]
Infant orangutans are cared for at an animal clinic in Bangkok after being rescued from exotic wildlife traffickers. Photo: Sarayouth Phaleebatra / AsiaWorks BANGKOK, December 21, 2016: Following an undercover operation, Thai Police announced they successfully rescued several infant endangered Orangutans that were trafficked by a major regional criminal syndicate that has also been […]
Despite record seizures and unprecedented levels of poaching, there are still talks of legalizing the trade of some of the most threatened wildlife species. Photo: Freeland MESSAGE TO CITES: DON’T FLIRT WITH DISASTER, AGAIN ANY LEGAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES FACILITATES AND STRENGTHENS CORRUPTION By Steven Galster, Director of Freeland In order to slow Earth’s […]
Using Leads from Asia, African Enforcers Find and Arrest Elephant Killers Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, (September 16)—Four suspects, including two officials and two business executives, have been arrested for their alleged role in trafficking multi-ton shipments of poached elephant tusks from Africa to Asia after an investigation spanning 16 months in six countries. In […]
Bangkok, September 15, 2016 – A five-year, U.S.-sponsored program to combat wildlife trafficking in Asia has significantly increased law enforcement collaboration and public awareness while reducing endangered species sales in several hotspots, experts announced at a press conference in Bangkok today. Working across Southeast Asia and China, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Asia’s […]
Did you know that 95 percent of the world’s tigers have been wiped out over the past century and that there are now more captive tigers left in countries such as China and the United States than animals left in the wild? Across Asia the remaining populations of wild tigers are so small and scattered […]
A student on Freeland’s PROTECT Rapid Response Group training course works with his team to plan a raid on a poacher camp, one of several realistic scenarios used to train prospective Hasadin members. Photo credit: Eric Ash. Training Course Protects Rangers and Wildlife from Poachers in World Heritage Site BANGKOK, September 12, 2016 – The […]
BANGKOK, September 7, 2016. In the shadow of the sprawling forests of Khao Yai National Park, a local village and volunteers complete construction of Thailand’s first corporate sponsored elephant watch tower, designed to provide communities bordering National Parks with an early warning for crop-raiding elephants. Wang Mee district, which lies on the northern boundary of […]
Did you know that organized crime syndicates control much of the illegal wildlife trade? Operating across borders and continents, the tentacles of these networks encircle the globe. Why? Because the trade in endangered species is so widespread and lucrative, it has attracted the attention of transnational crime syndicates, many of which are also involved […]
Did you know that the last rhino in Vietnam was killed in 2010? The female, estimated to be between 15 and 25 years old, was shot by a poacher. Why? Rhinos are killed for their horns which can be worth more per kilo than gold. Used in all sorts of traditional medicine potions and remedies, […]
Some of Southeast Asia’s most pristine parks and iconic species will enjoy better protection after 21 rangers and police underwent an intensive, 16-Day PROTECT Managers Course in Thailand. Freeland conducted the course for participants from Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, teaching them effective management skills for protected areas in the region, which are home to […]
Did you know that a shark is killed every few seconds for its fins? Still alive but unable to swim, sharks are thrown back into the water where they slowly die or are eaten by other predators. Why? Because of an appetite for shark fin soup, an expensive ‘delicacy’ that can be laced with toxic […]
Did you know that tortoises and turtles are trafﬁcked by the thousands every year? Taped up so they can’t move, stuffed into suitcases and put on planes where many of them die. Why? Because of the demand from the exotic pet trade, markets and restaurants selling exotic fare and traditional medicine. Airport authorities routinely seize […]
Did you know that every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its tusks? Up to 40,000 of these majestic animals are killed each year! Why? Because of greed, corruption and misinformed consumers. Record seizures this year in Southeast Asia, such as the one in Thailand totaling more than 4 tons, are clear indicators […]
Congo Connection Accused of Trafficking Tons of Elephant Tusks to Asia Vietnam Customs seized 1.5 tons of elephant tusks concealed in boxes labeled “charcoal” in 2014 (left). Thai Customs seized this four-ton haul of ivory (right) disguised in a shipment of beans in 2015. Both of these ivory seizures coming into Asia were trafficked from […]
A participant at the WildScan Indonesia launch uses the app to identify a protected cockatoo.Peserta pada peluncuran WildScan Indonesia menggunakan aplikasi untuk mengidentifikasi Kakatua yang dilindungi Photo: Freeland/Matthew P JAKARTA, July 21, 2016. An application to help identify protected wildlife has been officially launched in Indonesia. WildScan was designed to help stop wildlife […]
Phnom Penh, July 15, 2016-WildScan, Southeast Asia’s leading application for species identification and response, has officially launched in Cambodia. The app is designed to help stop the illegal wildlife trade. Wildlife trafficking is driving many majestic species towards extinction and often the animals being trafficked are difficult to identify. WildScan helps law enforcement and […]
WildScan, Southeast Asia’s application for species identification available on Android, devices, can now be downloaded and used Apple devices in a move that can significant increase the reach of the tool across the region.
Thai Celebrities join Global A-list Celebrities to Rally Public Support against Illegal Wildlife Trade on World Environment Day
Thai celebrities and wildlife advocates, Kong Saharat, Lotter Pattarapol, Noona Nuengthida, and Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, joined A-list celebrities around the world to rally citizen support to end demand that is driving illegal trade in wildlife.
Twenty-six civil society and government organizations met in Beijing on May 12 and 13 to explore the impact of behavior change campaigns implemented in China over the last four years to curb the local consumption of wildlife products.
Numerous wildlife consumption behavior change campaigns have been conducted in China over the past few years. It’s time to take stock of where time and financial resources are best spent.
Thai Customs has seized 315kg of elephant tusks being smuggled in 87 plastic barrels from Mozambique to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport via Kenya. The ivory, worth 28 million Baht (USD800,000) and representing entire herds of innocent elephants, was concealed with rocks and shipped over on a Kenya Airways commercial flight.
As the issue of illegal logging and trafficking of Siamese rosewood reaches critical levels, Cambodia, China, Vietnam and Thailand have all jointly agreed today that counter measures be given the highest priority. The agreement was made at the 2nd Regional Dialogue on Preventing Illegal Logging and Trade of Siamese Rosewood in Bangkok, Thailand, held from 4th to the 5th of April, 2016.
Twenty-five Vietnam-based civil society and government organizations convened yesterday in Hanoi and shared lessons learned on what is working and what is not on “behavior change” campaigns aimed at reducing wildlife consumption. Vietnam’s strong appetite for wildlife products and the adverse impact this is having on endangered species such as rhinos, tigers, and pangolins has prompted many NGOs and some government agencies to run campaigns to raise awareness and change behavior to curb this
A senior member of an international wildlife trafficking ring was arrested today in Bangkok, after a year of investigations by Royal Thai Police Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division (NRECD), Royal Thai Customs, Anti-Money Laundering Organization (AMLO), and the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN).
Airline and airport staff in one of the world’s most active wildlife trafficking hotspots are now better equipped to detect, report and combat wildlife crime. At last week’s Wildlife Friendly Skies workshop at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, more than 240 participants received training in identifying common smuggling methods and routes, signs of trafficking, effective first-response actions and examined real-life case studies.
ASEAN Member States launched a new first-of-its-kind ‘ASEAN Handbook on Legal Cooperation to Combat Wildlife Crime’ in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and Freeland.
Today civil society organizations and human trafficking victims celebrated a victory against organized crime. The Thai Government has confirmed that the leader of a social network slave syndicate that lured women from Thailand and Vietnam to Malaysia for employment in restaurants, but then forced them into prostitution, has pleaded guilty, and will serve a prison sentence and financially compensate six victims.
Yesterday Thai officials arrested an Indian national with around 2,800 Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) turtles in his baggage at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok. This particular species of turtle is not listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and is therefore able to be traded without restriction.
Numerous wildlife consumption behavior campaigns have been conducted in Vietnam over the past few years, so it is time to take stock of where time and financial resources are best spent.
Today Freeland announces a rewards program for information leading to the arrest of criminals responsible for the slaughter of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and many other rare and endangered species that continue to be poached from various countries and trafficked through Southeast Asia in large quantities. The rewards program starts today, following the recent multiple seizures of yet more illegal hauls of wildlife body parts from Africa.
ASEAN Rangers Empowered with Personal Connections to Parliamentarians and High-Level Managerial Training This week, 21 rangers from protected areas in Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia and Thailand graduated from a 16-day managers training course where they gained knowledge in command, leadership and management of enforcement operations that they can use to protect their country’s wildlife. They also […]
On December 6, representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will arrive in Bangkok to take part in the three-day ‘ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) – Ranger Interaction, Field Mission and Networking Dialogue’. Set to join are representatives from all over Southeast Asia, as well as Thai government officials and international conservation organizations.
November 8th in Hanoi, the Governments of the United States of America, Vietnam and South Africa will unite against a new common enemy: wildlife crime.
On November 3rd more than 70 law enforcement officers from different ministries and central agencies in Vietnam and staff from protected areas and national parks, took part in a training workshop for WildScan, a mobile phone application to support ongoing efforts to stop the trade of illegal wildlife.
China has long been considered one of the leading destinations for products such as ivory and rhino horns, originating in places such as Africa and transported to the area using airlines. The issue has also been further exacerbated with the increase in air travel, which has doubled in recent years.
ASEAN Legislators and Civil Society Congratulate Ministers for Upgrading Wildlife and Timber Trafficking to Serious Organized Crime.
iTHINK’s first set of campaign champions numbered nine in total – from government officials to news reporters and celebrities. Since then, the campaign has been promoted largely by media placement and related activities.
Five poachers were arrested deep within the forests of Eastern Thailand with a haul of Siamese rosewood, chainsaws and weapons during a week-long operation by Hasadin, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation’s (DNP) new anti-poaching rapid response unit.
A multi-country Parliamentary Effort Takes a Serious Stand Against Wildlife Crime. Freeland congratulates the 36th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) on their approval today of a resolution to combat wildlife crime, making wildlife crime a permanent item on the AIPA Caucus Agenda.
Africa’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking, or ARREST, will sensitize members of the wildlife and law enforcement community to the scale of the global trade; improve application of available legal mechanisms to address organized wildlife crime; and provide the latest techniques and technologies for information collection, analysis, surveillance and criminal asset recovery.
Thailand destroyed over two tons of confiscated ivory at the headquarters of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, with Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha himself presiding over the event. As the pile of ivory was crushed and turned to ashes, a clear message was given that Thailand was taking a serious stand against elephants being killed for ivory.
Acting on information and analysis from Freeland, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) today announced the arrest of three people for running a human trafficking network that used Facebook and other social media sites to recruit, dupe and intimidate victims across Southeast Asian borders for over two years.
Law enforcement officials, parliamentarians, judges, prosecutors, and legal experts from all 10 ASEAN countries and the United States convened in Singapore recently to build a new program designed to reduce the poaching and trafficking of wild animals and plants in Southeast Asia.
A skilled, mobile, rapid response unit of rangers has been set up in response to the rampant poaching of Siamese rosewood (‘bloodwood’) in Thailand’s Eastern Forest Complex. A joint project by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and Freeland, the new unit will step up protection efforts while increasing security for the rangers involved.
Designed to raise awareness on the plight of the rhino, the ‘Buy No Rhino’ Bike Tour, has the sisters setting-out from South Africa, and journeying through China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and, finally, Singapore urging consumers to stop buying rhino horn.
Law enforcement officers, forensic experts, prosecutors and anti-money laundering specialists from Southeast Asia, South Asia, China and the Americas are now better equipped to combat rosewood (Dalbergia) trafficking.
Freeland Announces PROTECT Managers Course for Counter-Poaching Recommended for College Credit by American Council on Education
The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for the Protected-area Operational & Tactical Enforcement Conservation Training (PROTECT) Managers Course.
The winners, hailing from Cambodia, China, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam and Tonga, were awarded for their efforts in confiscating nearly US$69 million in illegal contraband, logs and wood charcoal, and seizures of nearly 300,000 tons of hazardous waste, wildlife products and timber like the Indian Red Sanders, a wood popularly used for idols and wooden artifacts.
The mobile application contains a unique identification function, high resolution photos and critical information for over 300 endangered species and illegal wildlife products commonly trafficked into and throughout Southeast Asia, as well as essential animal care instructions and a simple reporting system.
Members of an international criminal syndicate trafficking Rohingyas into Thailand and Malaysia were detected and caught through unprecedented cooperation among police and NGOs, as well as the effective use of telephone forensics technology.
The remains of over 250 dead African elephants were seized by Thai Customs on April 25 as they were being smuggled in bags marked “tea leaves” from Mombasa Port, Kenya on their way to Laos, via Singapore and Thailand.
The elephant tusks were exported from Matadi Port, Democratic Republic of Congo on April 6, transshipped to Pointe Noire of Congo, before being smuggled onward to Bangkok via stopping points in three countries, including Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
Top officials from Vietnam, the United States and the international wildlife community joined forces today to launch “Operation Game Change” in Hanoi, coinciding with World Wildlife Day. “OGC” is bringing governments, NGOs, students and celebrities together from Vietnam, USA and South Africa to stop the illegal trade in rhino horn, while encouraging everyone to stop buying all endangered species. OGC will culminate with a nationally televised event and concert in September 2015 to coincide with World Rhino Day.
Three leading supermarket chains in Thailand have officially removed shark products from their shelves thanks to student appeals rom a local environmental campaign. The announcement came just ahead of Chinese New Year, a time common for shark product consumption, such as shark fin soup.
The Wildlife Friendly Skies workshop, organized in partnership with the Biodiversity Conservation Agency of Vietnam’s Environment Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Northern Airport Authority of Vietnam, focused on commercial flight routes connecting Vietnam to other wildlife source, transit and consumer countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
Southeast Asia is recognised as a well-known hot spot for wildlife trafficking, especially the highly populated metropolis Bangkok, whose airports and other excellent infrastructure make it a common target for illegal wildlife destined for Asian markets.
The Government of the People’s Republic of China destroyed six tons of elephant ivory drawing praise from conservation groups across Asia. China has now become the third major wildlife consumer country to destroy a large amount of ivory in less than year after the United States and Philippine governments destroyed six and five tons respectively.
Thailand hosted government agencies from Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam last week for the first regional dialogue on the increasingly violent black market trade in rosewood, a rare species of trees found in forests in Thailand and other countries.
Vietnam’s National Environmental Police are on the look out for a wildlife trafficking kingpin after raiding a secret warehouse where over 1,000 endangered sea turtles were being processed for export to China. The local conservationists who tipped off police believe that thousands of marine turtles poached from Southeast Asian waters have been smuggled by the syndicate for years and that the “powerful kingpin” will be a challenge to prosecute.
China’s rich and famous joined wildlife conservationists this week to call on friends and followers to stop buying ivory in order to save elephants from poachers. The call was made at a well attended Beijing media launch of a new campaign called ‘Give Peace to Elephants’ by the organization IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).
On World Rhino Day, a coalition of Asia-based conservation groups calls on the public to stop purchasing rhino horn and to support wildlife protection efforts. Rhino poaching has reached a crisis point. They are now extinct in Vietnam, and remaining populations, especially in South Africa, are being poached faster than they can reproduce. If we don’t take action now, wild rhinos will be extinct by 2020.
Prosecutors from eight South American countries confirmed this week that they have formally agreed to launch a regional law enforcement network to combat wildlife poaching, trafficking and illegal logging. The “Sao Paolo” declaration was signed last Friday and affirmed this week by officers from Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Plans are underway for some countries to form multi-agency task forces in the near future.
WildScan contains photos and critical information for over 280 endangered species and illegal wildlife products commonly trafficked into and throughout Southeast Asia to assist in proper identification and rapid response.
This training is an outcome of the APEC Pathfinder Dialogue that was held in Bangkok last September, where over 150 participants from APEC, ASEAN, and the Pacific Island Forum, policy makers, law enforcement officials, NGOs, and international organizations convened to discuss corruption that facilitates illicit trade in wildlife trafficking, money laundering, and trafficking in persons.
The arrest, raid and rescue were made in the southern city of Ranong, which borders Myanmar. Police who conducted the raid swooped in from outside the city. The targeted establishment may be connected to a wider human trafficking network that stretches along the Thai-Myanmar border. Victims have been taken into protective custody in Bangkok.
Freeland congratulates the investigative work of Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) after it announced seizures of over 1 billion Thai baht ($36.5 million USD) from a wildlife trafficking syndicate yesterday, marking the first ever multi-million dollar seizure from wildlife criminals in Asia.
Law enforcement officers from Lao PDR and Thailand are now better equipped to stop wildlife trafficking after undergoing joint training at a major endangered species smuggling corridor.
Eighteen senior environmental officials from nine Asian countries joined together at the regional course in Cha-Am, Thailand, to gain new skills in reducing poaching and illegal logging. The two-week course included jungle survival drills and video simulation exercises that mimic armed poaching intrusions in government protected wildlife areas.
Thailand’s Wild Reservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535 (1992), commonly known as WARPA, has been debated for 14 years, and is in need of updating to deter criminals from trafficking wildlife in The Kingdom. Thailand’s current law includes a maximum fine of US$1,300 for wildlife criminals and up to four years in prison, though very few traffickers have gone to jail.
The skies are getting safer for endangered species after one of the world’s busiest airports and two major airlines joined together to launch a new global program to stop wildlife trafficking through airports.
The “Pig-nosed” turtles (Carettochelys insculpta) were confiscated in Hong Kong on January 12th by local authorities after they received a tip-off during a global wildlife enforcement sting operation code-named “Cobra II”.
The month-long operation and capacity building activity promoted cross-border law enforcement cooperation and is drawing praise from the conservation community for its impressive results, including more than 400 arrests of wildlife criminals and 350 major wildlife seizures across Africa and Asia.
Freeland’s nine year effort in supporting government investigators to bring down the Southeast Asia-based Xaysavang wildlife trafficking syndicate got a boost this week from the U.S. Government when Secretary of State John Kerry announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the syndicate’s dismantlement.
“The multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade is one of the world’s most lucrative illicit economies,” said U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney. “All of us living in Asia, Africa and the United States must join forces to expose and bring an end to this illegal exploitation. The Ivory Crush sends a clear signal that we are actively committed to protect wildlife.”
The new special unit is authorized to investigate and suppress nature crimes throughout Thailand’s forests and waterways. Unit members were hand-selected after undergoing intense mental and physical endurance tests.
A team of scientists from China and Southeast Asia completed a training course conducted by U.S. Government forensic experts designed to help them track organized crime syndicates that are leading the trafficking of rare and endangered species across the world.
Enforcement rangers are the frontline defence for the world’s threatened wildlife and protected areas. They often work in extreme conditions with inadequate equipment and insufficient training.
The Philippine Government crushed over five tons of confiscated ivory tusks from approximately 850 elephants worth an estimated P420 million (US$10 million) to show its support against illegal ivory trade. This is the first known mass destruction of elephant ivory outside of Africa, where the vast majority of the trafficked tusks originate.
Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Continues to Build Regional Law Enforcement Capacity
The fight against illegal wildlife trade in Asia took another step forward with the successful completion of an intense seven-day training course for government and law enforcement officers in Indonesia.
The seizure of 50 kilograms of pangolin scales this week at Charles De Gaulle Airport was the 3rd this month by French Customs, representing the deaths of up to 400 pangolins, which are endangered ant-eaters, prized for their meat and skin as food and medicine in Asian black markets
The operation was a welcome and innovative initiative from countries, the first international effort of its kind to focus on the sharing of investigation information in real time among countries and a concerted response by law enforcement agencies of implicated countries and partnering institutions towards curtailing rampant wildlife crime.
The course will train government officers tasked with enforcing the laws in the forests along international borders within Lower Mekong countries. The course has expanded its link to other existing agreements such as the Partnership Against Transnational-crime through Regional Organized Law-enforcement (PATROL) by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI).