Wildlife Enforcement Networks

A model for combatting national and transnational wildlife crime. Organized commercial poaching and wildlife trafficking are threatening wildlife around the world, devastating local ecosystems and harming essential environmental services. Criminal syndicates continue to reap billions of dollars, at the expense of security for both wildlife and humans. As an effective solution to the problem, Freeland played an instrumental role in establishing Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs).

Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN)

  • A multi-agency, intergovernmental law-enforcement network made up of multiple countries within one region, designed to combat the illegal wildlife trade at a regional scale
  • A platform for regional collaboration between national law enforcement agencies, CITES authorities, customs, police, prosecutors, and specialized wildlife enforcement groups
  • A mechanism for countries to monitor wildlife crime, share information, develop capacity for enforcement and investigations, and learn from each other’s best practices
  • A proactive regional response to wildlife trafficking and species loss

National. Each country in the network establishes a multi-agency task force (a national WEN) comprised of police, customs, environmental officers, prosecutors and other relevant agencies.

Regional. National WEN task forces team up to form the backbone of the regional WEN. Focal points from each agency share intelligence, including through regional working groups. A typical set of regional working groups would include investigations, capacity building, communications and sustainability.

ASEAN-WEN Coordinating Hub

In Southeast Asia, the ASEAN-WEN’s administrative hub – the Program Coordination Unit (PCU) – facilitates and coordinates technical support for the network. The PCU organizes regional meetings, seminars, workshops, exchanges and training programs, with guidance and support from the ASEAN Secretariat. The network also operates a Law Enforcement Extension Office (LEEO) to support regional intelligence exchange.

Why are WENs Important?

Often the task of investigating and apprehending wildlife offenders is left to environmental agencies which frequently lack the authority or capacity to stop wildlife crimes. International wildlife trafficking syndicates take advantage of this, as well as a lack of cross-border collaboration and corruption. WENs are important because they help facilitate the participation of police and customs officers in wildlife crime enforcement, and are expanding their global reach through the development of new partnerships. To improve the capacity of networks, interagency task forces are being trained in investigations, while border officers, judges, and prosecutors are also attending seminars and workshops to increase their knowledge of wildlife crime.

Keys to WEN Sustainability

  • Institutionalizing capacity building;
  • Making task forces and their national and regional hubs permanent structures with permanent government budget lines;
  • Solid branding that lends itself to national government and regional intergovernmental body ownership;
  • Civil society engagement.

The WEN concept has since been replicated by South Asia (SA-WEN), China (NICE-CG), Central America (CA-WEN), with a network emerging in the Horn of Africa (HA-WEN), and interest growing in a Southern Africa network (WEN-SA ) and West Asia network (WA-WEN).

Latest Wildlife Enforcement Network News


Senior ASEAN Officials Direct Wildlife Enforcement Network and CITES to Merge

Marking 10 years in existence, the meeting celebrated milestones achievements in the region’s fight against wildlife crime and discussed means of maximizing the effectiveness of ASEAN-WEN – a now well-established entity.


Thai Enforcers Smash Wildlife Trafficking Ring

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).


ASEAN Launches First Ever Legal Toolkit to Combat Wildlife Crime

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.


Park Rangers Gain Skills and New Allies

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 […]


Wildlife Friendly Skies Kenya

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 3.1 billion passengers used airlines to travel in 2013 and more than 50 million tons of cargo was shipped through the air. With easier access to airlines, the relatively low cost and the quick travel times, wildlife traffickers are increasingly using airlines to smuggle illegal and often endangered wildlife.


ASEAN Security Ministers Prioritize Wildlife and Timber Trafficking

ASEAN Legislators and Civil Society Congratulate Ministers for Upgrading Wildlife and Timber Trafficking to Serious Organized Crime.


Southeast Asian Legislators to Tackle Wildlife Crime​ ​as a Permanent Item on the Caucus Agenda

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.


Making the Case for Wildlife: New Program Takes Fight Against Poachers and Traffickers to Court

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.

south american prosecutors

South American Prosecutors Launch Wildlife Enforcement Network

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.