ENV’s Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) was established in 2005 to facilitate and motivate public involvement in combating the wildlife trade while improving the effectiveness of law enforcement’s response to wildlife crime.
As of March 2020, the WCU has documented more than 15,000 wildlife crime cases. Members of the public and ENV volunteers report wildlife crime to the WCU by calling 1-800-1522 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following a public report of a crime, experienced case officers contact the appropriate authorities to address the violation and track each case through to conclusion, documenting the outcome on ENV’s Wildlife Crime Incident Tracking Database. In cases involving advertisement or sale of critically endangered species, ENV will work directly with law enforcement to set up and execute “sting” operations with the aim to apprehend the seller and seizure the wildlife.
In 2019, ENV’s Wildlife Crime Hotline received more violation reports from the public than any previous year, with 4.7 new cases reported each day and a total of 1,777 cases reported during the course of the entire year.
As a direct result of ENV’s cooperation with law enforcement, thousands of animals have been confiscated, along with fines administered to violators, advertisements and menus removed, businesses sanctioned, and markets closed. ENV’s work on wildlife crime is widely credited as having helped transform the quality of wildlife protection enforcement in Vietnam through promoting greater transparency in enforcement and a sustained level of support and attention on wildlife crime.
Wildlife Trade Monitoring
The WCU runs a growing national network of volunteers in 59 provinces who assist with monitoring and surveying consumer wildlife trade hotspots in urban centers throughout Vietnam.
“Compliance monitoring” involves inspections of business establishments where violations have been previously reported by the public; or through surveys to ensure that owners are in compliance with the law following a previous enforcement intervention coordinated by ENV. Restaurants and other businesses that fail to meet compliance following inspection are subject to further action until full compliance is achieved.
A special team works exclusively on investigations, providing valuable information and support to law enforcement agencies and profiling major criminal networks behind the wildlife trade.
Due to the sensitive and ongoing nature of investigations, ENV’s work in this area cannot be publicized. However, current investigations focus on networks supporting illegal transnational trade of tigers, bears, rhino horn, elephant ivory, pangolins, marine turtles, and douc langurs. Other ENV investigations are examining complex issues such as wildlife farming and profiling some of ENV’s top suspected wildlife traffickers.