CITES Secretary-General to Present
2010 Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards in Doha
Species Survival Network Congratulates Dedicated Conservation Advocates

(Doha, Qatar)—15 March 2010: The Species Survival Network (SSN), a global coalition of 82 organizations from more than 30 countries, today congratulated the recipients of the prestigious 2010 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards.

Tonight at 18.30 in the Al Dafna Foyer of the Sheraton Doha Convention Hotel, hundreds of delegates attending the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES gather to honor the heroic efforts of wildlife law enforcement officers who often put their lives in jeopardy to protect wildlife and uphold the rule of law.

Will Travers, President of the Species Survival Network said, “Wildlife law enforcement is the front-line. It’s a dangerous, sometimes deadly place. Sadly all too often the sacrifice made by law enforcement officers goes unrecognized—not tonight.”

Honorees include representatives from Israel, India, the United States, Kenya, China, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the Philippines. The Awards are named in memory of the pioneering former head of law enforcement for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

DJ Schubert, wildlife biologist with the US-based Animal Welfare Institute, sponsor of the Bavin Awards, added, “It is a privilege to work in wildlife conservation and be an advocate for wild animals in desperate need across the globe – and it is an honor to share this evening with the dedicated wildlife protectors who turn words into deeds and stop at nothing to end wildlife crime.”

Dr. Bill Clark, CITES Coordinator for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Department of Law Enforcement, has spent 30 years in wildlife law enforcement and is chair of Interpol’s Wildlife Crimes Group. He has co-ordinated the donation of aircraft and vehicles, organized scores of enforcement training programs in Africa and is directly involved in reintroductions and anti-poaching patrols. He was instrumental in Interpol operations in Africa which led to the arrest of hundreds of ivory dealers and seizure of tons of ivory and weapons. He has written two books, nearly 100 articles and an Interpol-CITES manual on questioning wildlife smugglers.

Mr. Nitin Desai is the Director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India’s operation in Central India, and has investigated illegal trade since 1998 nationally and internationally. He manages a network of informers to detect illegal trade, has been instrumental in 200 enforcement workshops and trained 7,800 enforcement officers throughout India. With state and federal enforcement agents he has conducted numerous investigations and enforcements resulting in the seizure of a variety of wildlife products including tiger pelts and parts.  Accepting the award on behalf of Mr. Desai is Avinash Basker, Legal Consultant, Wildlife Protection Society of India.

Mr. Muga Joel Got, Ranger, Kenya Wildlife Service, repeatedly risked his life over his four years as a Ranger with the Kenya Wildlife Service, engaging in five dangerous encounters with wildlife criminals in 2009 alone.  In the course of his duty Ranger Got was killed on Christmas Day 2009 by ivory poachers north of Meru National Park. Ranger Got was renowned for his integrity and courage, and his name is to be added to the Heroes’ Monument at the headquarters of the Kenya Wildlife Service as the 43rd ranger killed in the line of duty.  On January 5th 2010, a team of rangers captured Ranger Got’s murderers.

Mr. John Laigwanani, Sergeant, Kenya Wildlife Service, joined the Kenya Wildlife Service as a Ranger and currently serves as a section commander in Meru National Park. For twenty years he has protected wildlife in Meru and other Kenyan parks, where he and his men have often risked their lives in engagements with armed poachers. In December 2009, Mr. Laigwanani led a team of rangers into a confrontation with elephant poachers which lead to the arrest or deaths of several members of a criminal gang. Among the poachers arrested or killed were those individuals responsible for the murder of fellow 2010 Bavin Award recipient, Ranger Muga Joel Got.

The Anti-smuggling Bureau of Guangzhou Customs, China combats illegal wildlife trade within South China’s Guangdong province.  Since 2008 its officers have detected 353 cases of illegal trade, arrested 40 suspects, confiscated 1,600 live endangered animals, and seized nearly 6,000 kilograms and 55,000 specimens of wildlife parts and products, including ivory. The Bureau is a model of effective enforcement, utilizing improved methods of passenger inspection and developing systems of early warning for frontline officers and for cooperation across agencies. Accepting the award on behalf of the Anti-smuggling Bureau of Guangzhou Customs is Wan Ziming, Director, Enforcement and Training Division, State Forestry Administration.

Mr. Andrew McWilliam, Investigative Support Officer, National Wildlife Crime Unit, United Kingdom, spent 31 years as a police officer before becoming the lead officer investigating wildlife crime within his police force in the United Kingdom. He joined the National Wildlife Crime Unit in 2006 where he combats national and international wildlife crime. He has been involved in more than 100 enforcement operations resulting in numerous successful prosecutions, and conducts enforcement training within and outside the UK. He is currently investigating illicit trade in traditional medicines and the laundering of wild-caught birds of prey.

Ms. Birgith Sloth, Nature Conservation and Management Specialist, has dedicated her career to ensuring the proper implementation of CITES.  She has provided capacity building training sessions to thousands of officials in over 24 countries in support of the proper implementation of CITES. CITES and the Parties to it owe an immense debt of gratitude to Ms. Sloth’s untiring dedication and selfless commitment. As a recent example, from 2003 to 2007 she provided intensive training to Croatian nature protection officials significantly enhancing the capacity of Croatia to implement CITES.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India, New Delhi, India, has only been in operation since 2007 but has already proven a major force in tackling wildlife crime. Following a seizure in January 2009 of tiger skins by authorities on the Indo-Nepal border a team from the Bureau captured eleven notorious poachers, traders and middlemen and seized a large collection of tiger, otter and leopard parts, effectively shutting down three different international poaching units. The Bureau has, for the first time in India, initiated a criminal proceeding for the creation of fraudulent CITES import documentation.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is Ramesh Pandey, Deputy Director of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.

Mr. Li Huadong, Captain of Criminal Investigation Brigade in Shenyang Forestry Policy Bureau, China, has solved 120 cases of wildlife crime since 2004 resulting in the arrest of 130 criminals and the rescue of over 15,000 wild animals. Mr. Huadong is an excellent investigator, meticulous in collecting evidence and innovatively using the internet against those who would abuse it for illegal wildlife trade.  In August 2008 he led a raid in which a tiger pelt was seized and subsequently arresting and assisting in the successful prosecution of two dealers. He also arrested a wildlife trader who for years had traveled across China illegally selling raptors.
Accepting the award on behalf of Mr. Li Huadong is Wan Ziming, Director, Enforcement and Training Division, State Forestry Administration.

Mr. Asis Generoso Perez, Attorney, Director for Law Enforcement, Tanggol Kalikasan, Philippines, is the director of law enforcement at Tanggol Kalikasan, an environmental law firm in the Philippines. Mr. Asis has conducted raids of suspected illegal wildlife traders and led the investigation of 23 poachers responsible for killing 200 marine turtles. He co-organized the first Philippine Environmental Law Enforcement Summit and developed a manual on enforcement. He also wrote procedures for releasing seized wildlife and established a training program for enforcement officers for many areas of the Philippines.
Accepting the award on behalf of Atty. Asis Generoso Perez is Assistant Secretary Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., Head of the Philippine Delegation.

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Special Operations Unit and U.S. Department of Justice attorneys responsible for the successful completion of Operation Central, which targeted the illegal trafficking of products of sea turtles and other animals from Mexico and China to the United States. The investigation involved the arrest of traders involved in the illegal transactions of 800 products of sea turtles, caimans, pythons and other protected species. Operation Central exposed more than $1 million worth of smuggled sea turtle products into the United States from the two countries and stands as the largest probe ever of the illegal commercial exploitation of sea turtles.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Operation Central team is Mr. Benito Perez, Chief, Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.