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Belantara Learning Series Eps. 5 “Tackling the Wildlife Trade: Lessons from Southeast Asia”

Belantara Foundation once again held the Belantara Learning Series (BLS) Eps. 5 with the following theme “Handling Wildlife Trade: Lessons from Southeast Asia” via ZOOM application on Thursday (27/10). This event is a capacity-building program initiated by Belantara Foundation starting from the end of 2021 until now. This time, Belantara Foundation is collaborating with the Environmental Management Study Program at the Pakuan University Postgraduate School, LPPM Pakuan University, SCENTS, Faculty of Biology of National University, LPPM National University, Department of Biology FMIPA University of Riau, Department of Biology FMIPA Andalas University and Department of Biology FMIPA University of Indonesia.


Belantara Foundation Executive Director Dr. Dolly Priatna said that the concept of BLS this time was different from before. Apart from being held online, this time we also held offline viewing which is NOBAR (watching together) at 5 universities. The five universities were University of Indonesia, Andalas University, Riau University, National University, and Pakuan University, attended by university students, lecturers, and academics.


"We hope that through this offline viewing, the participants who are generally students can be more motivated so that innovative inspiration will emerge that can make a real contribution to more effective handling of wildlife trade. When watching together, the participants can also be more interactive and open up a space for deeper discussion together compared to being an online participant," said Dolly.


Illegal wildlife trade is a threat to biodiversity conservation. The impact arising from this wildlife trade activity is the occurrence of scarcity, extinction of species, and imbalance of ecosystems in their natural habitat.


The Director General of Environmental and Forestry Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Rasio Ridho Sani stated that protected wild animals are our nation’s treasure and play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the Indonesian ecosystem. Illegal hunting and trade in protected animals must be stopped because it is detrimental to the state and society. This is a serious and organized crime. The perpetrators of poaching and wildlife trade crimes must be punished as severely as possible so that there is a deterrent effect.


“We are very serious and have the commitment to take action against the perpetrators of illegal wildlife poaching and trade. To fight organized crime, this must be done together, we cannot do it alone, we need the involvement of the community, CSOs, and academics," said Rasio Sani.


More than that, the wildlife trade also carries a dangerous threat from a health perspective, such as the spread and transmission of zoonotic diseases to different areas. Wild animals that are moved from their natural habitat to our environment have the potential to carry and transmit diseases that were previously unreachable.


The amount of illegal wildlife trade globally has increased in recent years, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic which was accompanied by an increase in online networks for this illegal activity. Currently, this illegal wildlife trade not only threatens charismatic species such as tigers and elephants but also threatens various species such as fish, reptiles, poultry and others.


From 2014 to 2018, there was a 10-fold increase in cases of pangolin seizures. Based on data from the World Wildlife Seizures belonging to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there have been 180,000 seizures of wildlife in 149 countries and territories. In addition, it was found that as many as 6,000 species had been smuggled between 1999-2019 consisting of mammals, reptiles, coral reefs, birds, and fish.


Pakuan University rector Didik Notosudjono revealed that university personnel can play a strategic role in handling wildlife trade. Besides public awareness activities through the KKN, PKM, and MBKM programs, lecturers and students can also conduct research on developing monitoring methods by utilizing technology, which can help deal with crimes against protected plants and animals more effectively. "Through these efforts, it is hoped that it will increase public awareness to love, protect and preserve wild animals and their habitats," Didik concluded.


On the same occasion, SCENTS Founder Dwi Nugroho Adhiasto revealed that the three pillars to prevent wildlife trade are detection, prevention and deterrent effect. "To carry out these three pillars, there are many activities or innovations that can be carried out together," concluded Dwi.


One effort that can reduce the rate of wildlife trade is the establishment of communication and cooperation between countries. Increasing international cooperation will greatly assist the overall investigation process by trapping national/regional boundaries. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) has encouraged various countries in the world to categorize this fraudulent animal trade in their respective countries.


The Indonesian government itself has made a global agreement to regulate and prohibit international trade in threatened species through the ratification of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as stipulated in Presidential Decree No. 43 of 1978.


Also present as resource persons who are experts in their fields, which are Debbie Banks, Head of Environmental Investigation Agency, (England); Jenny Machau, Executive at Enforcement & Protection Division of the Sarawak Forest Corporation (Malaysia) and Jessica Lee, Head of Avian Species Programs and Partnership Mandai Nature Singapore.


This event can be accessed again via Belantara's YouTube channel:

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