Sniffer dogs—with their remarkable sense of smell—are increasingly part of a global effort to intercept illegal wildlife and wildlife products like ivory, rhino horns, sea turtles and pangolins smuggled through airports, shipping ports and public transportation centers.
They serve under various titles—rangers, forest guards, eco guard and field enforcement officers—but these men and women on the frontlines of conservation are perhaps the most important protectors of the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
One of the world’s largest populations of tigers exists not in the wild—but in captivity in the United States. With an estimated 5,000 tigers, the U.S. captive tiger population exceeds the approximately 3,200 tigers in the wild.
The governments of CITES took strong and decisive action in Geneva last week. They laid out timelines and concrete deliverables for countries most complicit in the illegal ivory trade. In particular, they laid down a strict timeline for Thailand to take the necessary steps to rectify the problems that have facilitated its rise to becoming the world’s largest unregulated ivory market. Thailand has until March 2015 to deliver, or they face sanctions.
This move indicates efforts by the Hong Kong government to combat the illegal ivory trade, which is fueling an elephant poaching crisis. Last year, an estimated 30,000 elephants were slaughtered to feed the black market trade in ivory.
The world has never before rallied together to stop wildlife crime like they did this week in London. Heads of state, ministers and other high-level representatives from 46 countries—including those most heavily impacted by poaching and illegal trade of wildlife—signed onto an extraordinary joint declaration.
As wildlife crime sweeps through Africa and Asia, WWF joined wildlife advocates, conservation orgnizations and concerned citizens gathered at the first public meeting of President Obama's Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking in Washington D.C
Rotiken Denis, warden for the Maasai Mara Rhino Monitoring Team in Kenya, is a Maasai with a background in wildlife management. He is responsible for preventing rhino poaching in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Narok County, Kenya.