Director General/Executive Director
Video Statement to the Heads of Police and Customs Seminar on Tiger Crime
My thanks to INTERPOL for organizing the Heads of Police and Customs Seminar on Tiger Crime. I regret that I cannot attend this meeting in person.
Today's seminar is one of the first in a series of activities to be conducted by the I nternational Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, [known as "IQUICK"].
As a partnership between UNODC, CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, World Bank, and the World Customs Organization, IQUICK represents an important statement of our collective commitment to preventing wildlife crime.
I am also glad that the subject of today's meeting is the Tiger, one of the most beautiful species on earth.
In 2010, for the first time, world leaders came together in St. Petersburg to discuss how we could prevent the Tiger's extinction in its natural habitat.
IQUICK was founded at this summit.
Now we need to translate this political will into concrete and practical action to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to save the Tiger among other species
And we must also act with urgency.
UNODC estimates there are only around 3,200 Tigers left in the wild. Some 5 per cent of these Tigers are lost to-among other things-poaching and illegal trade every year.
The value of the illegal market in Tiger skins and bones is estimated at around 5 million US dollars every year.
Given these appalling figures, we are looking at the extinction of the Tiger as a viable species within a generation.
This means for the children of our children, the Tiger will be an animal of safari parks and Zoos; caught in the wild only in the pictures and films of yesteryear.
But the tale of the Tiger is not simply about conservation, it is also about crime.
Even more significantly, it concerns transnational organized crime, high profits, widespread corruption; money laundering; fraud, counterfeiting; and violence .
The international community is increasingly concerned about crimes affecting the environment because they deny states the possibility of sustainable development. They also weaken economic growth, making countries vulnerable to corruption, instability and increased criminal activity.
As the guardians of two pivotal conventions, one on transnational organized crime, the other on corruption, our role is to build partnerships, assess threats and develop the capacities to confront this crime.
UNODC's approach is multi-dimensional: Political, strategical, tactical.
Our experience in the field is vital. Criminal groups have wasted very little time in embracing today's globalised economy and the sophisticated technology that goes with it.
We must understand the size and extent of the problem through a comprehensive assessment of state responses to Tiger and wildlife crime.
The Wildlife Crime Assessment Tool Kit will review criminal justice approaches in origin, transit and destination states, and their reactions to wildlife crime.
Very often it is marginalised communities that are involved at the beginning of the supply chain. Our role is to help alleviate the circumstances that make such groups vulnerable to transnational organised crime.
Currently, there are low levels of cooperation and very little mutual legal assistance.
To change this pattern, we must develop necessary partnerships and intelligence sharing capabilities to apply pressure on the criminal networks and finally to destroy them.
The knowledge and understanding of local customs and law enforcement officers, who often face miles of porous borders, is key to this approach.
We must also disrupt the tacit acceptance of risk throughout the supply chain. This means that, for all those involved in the poaching, smuggling and buying of endangered species, the risk of arrest, trial and imprisonment must be so great that criminals, with few exceptions, will no longer undertake this activity.
To complement this work, we are developing a global programme on wildlife crime bringing together collaborative partnerships, law enforcement, capacity building, and intelligence gathering to create a powerful tool to fight the crime.
As part of the global programme, UNODC will undertake strategic events across the globe: in South East Asia, Southern Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
This brings me to the demand side. We need to undertake activities that reduce demand.
Perceptions also need to be changed; people all over the world need to be made aware that endangered species are not food, ornaments or medicine.
Above all, we need to educate, educate, and educate.
However, this takes time, and given the catastrophic depletion of Tiger numbers in the wild, we cannot afford to wait. This is why, although the demand side is crucial, we must work decisively on the supply side.
To ensure these activities have the greatest possible impact, I am happy to announce that the UAE is offering to host a Summit on wildlife and forest crime with the support of UNODC and other IQUICK partners later this year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tigers are scarce, profits margins are enormous, demand is high. The Tiger is in great danger.
We must do everything possible to ensure its survival in the wild.
I am, therefore, proud that UNODC is a partner in a consortium designed to combat wildlife crime.
If we lose an emblematic species like the Tiger, mankind will be acknowledging that it is prepared to lose any animal on the planet. This must not be allowed to happen.
By our actions, we must show that we have the capacity, the ability and the commitment to protect other species living on this planet.