The South Asian Wildlife Enforcement Network – SAWEN began its inaugural regional meeting at Jetwing Lagoon, Negombo inaugurated by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Environment on Sunday .Focusing on the key issue of combating illegal trade of wildlife and bio-resources in the South Asian region, the event was hosted by The Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka (DWC) the national focal point for SAWEN, in conjunction with the SAWEN Secretariat.
In order to combat illegal trade of wildlife and bio-resources in the South Asian region an experts group was formed in May 2010. Following the second meeting of the South Asia Experts Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade, held at Paro Bhutan in 2011, the South Asian Wildlife Enforcement Network – SAWEN was formally launched. At the meeting members unanimously decided that the inaugural meeting of the SAWEN should be held in Sri Lanka .
The meeting held from 3rd – 6th of June 2012 consists of technical and interactive sessions providing a forum for delegates from all SAARC countries, INTERPOL, World Customs Organization, UNODC, the World Bank, the CITES Management Authority of China, the US Department of State, TRAFFIC and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to network and share effective knowledge and information.
Mr. Ranjan Marasinghe, Deputy Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation said: “The main goal of this Experts Group Meeting is to strengthen our regional co‐operation in combating illegal trade of fauna and flora, and to implement this regional network to prioritize such actions on wildlife law enforcement. Sri Lanka is a party to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Department of Wildlife Conservation is the management authority to the Convention. I would especially like to mention about the support rendered by the Government of Sri Lanka , and the US Department of State for the funding support provided through a grant to TRAFFIC.”
A number of potential activities are identified for SAWEN’s work programme in terms of regional law enforcement responses. These include addressing information, capacity and technical gaps; and how to address illegal exploitation and trade of endangered species in the region. The programme promotes implementation of national wildlife protection laws and international treaties such as CITES, with the long-term goal of reducing illegal wildlife trade in South Asia through the dismantlement of the region’s major wildlife trafficking networks. Engagement with other countries such as China and the US will also help to address issues of co-operation and demand reduction regarding illegal wildlife trade.