Plants and animals are traded for a range of uses – live animals for the pet trade, reptile skins for leather products, marine species for food and knick-knacks, and plants for horticulture. Illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade often involves the transfer of goods across porous borders and is frequently characterized by the involvement of organized criminal syndicates. In order to successfully combat this trade and those groups and individuals perpetuating it, governments must coordinate their efforts.
In 2005, The Association of South East Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) was launched and brought together ten nations in Southeast Asia to help combat illegal trade in species. This network has helped catch and convict poachers and wildlife smugglers and has removed thousands of dollars of illegally traded wildlife off of the market.
TRAFFIC is supporting the creation of a similar Wildlife Enforcement Network for Central America called ROAVIS. This includes the seven Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, plus the Dominican Republic. These countries form a landscape that acts as a bridge for trafficking between North and South America. Within the region there is significant hunting, harvest and sale of wild species for both local use and international trade. Just as ASEAN-WEN does in Southeast Asia, ROAVIS helps coordinate the efforts of all of these countries to stop illegal activities that harm precious wildlife.
TRAFFIC has undertaken field and market research on plants and animals of particular concern such as reptiles and cacti and participated in the development of wildlife related policies and management strategies. They have also invested significant efforts on the strengthening of capacities of enforcement officials to stop illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade related practices. TRAFFIC NA has lead numerous training courses and workshops for PROFEPA (General Attorney for the Protection of the Environment), the National Wildlife Directorate, Customs, Federal Police, and National Protected Areas Commission. TRAFFIC NA is also engaged in a range of research, analysis, and advocacy efforts related to the unsustainable and illegal harvest and trade of marine species.