The first workshop of 2019 of the Wild Animal Rescue Network of Asia (WARN ASIA) ended yesterday, Wednesday the 23rd of January after three days of meetings, presentations and open discussions at the “I-Love-Phants Lodge” of the Wildlife Friends Foundation (WFFT) in Petchaburi, Thailand.
The workshop was held with financial sponsorship from Wildlife Friends International (WFI) with attendees from 11 countries, including NGO’s and government officials. The workshop was small in size with just over 20 people, as it was specifically set up for the illegal wildlife investigators from China, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
The meeting has been extremely valuable for the newer investigators as they learned several techniques to search and recover data online, while national borders and language barriers can now be overcome with an international network of all investigators that have joined in. For police and forestry officials the three day meeting also turned out very positive as they have been able to make direct contact with their counterparts abroad and international NGO’s, able to chase information over national borders without unnecessary loss of time and funds.
The amount of illegal obtained wild animals and parts thereof traded online is a major concern to NGO’s and authorities all over East and South-east Asia. While there are some networks existing trying to tackle this trade, they are mostly limited by funds, international cooperation, language barriers and loopholes in the laws of several countries.
WARN is determined to further strengthen the network of NGO’s and government officials by running conferences and workshops within East and South-East Asia on capacity building, legislation, education, enforcement on wildlife conservation and animal welfare.
At the conclusion of our workshop, we had a beautiful and uplifting afternoon in Kui Buri National Park where we saw wild elephants, gaur, banteng, and hornbills. It was lovely to see all that we are fighting for, living peacefully in the vast wilderness!