According to WWF’s 2022 Living Planet Report, our world has seen an average decline of 69% in our global vertebrate species.
Ranked as the world’s fourth largest criminal activity, after drugs, counterfeit goods and human trafficking, Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) remains an unfortunately attractive business for poachers and smugglers, with Southeast Asia at the epicentre of much of this illicit activity.
Singapore’s role as a major trading hub for the region makes the city-state a convenient location and through-route for IWT and illegal wildlife products.
In order to protect Singapore’s biodiversity and the region’s wildlife, WWF-Singapore has designed initiatives and plans to combat the IWT and ensure that species threatened by illegal poaching are protected.
In today’s digital world, purchasing elephant ivory, tiger teeth and other endangered wildlife products can be done with a simple click. Given the anonymous nature of online trafficking, it is essential that e-commerce and social media platforms take charge of detecting and disrupting this illegal trade.
The WWF Wildlife Cyber Spotter Programme was conceived as a component of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. It adopts a systematic approach to detect and take down illegal wildlife product postings on digital platforms, for example: e-commerce websites.
WWF-Singapore empowers the community and individuals to be part of the effort against illicit supply chains, training volunteers to spot illegal trade on online markets. Volunteers will undergo training and the skills to identify, track and report suspicious listings and products, eliminating opportunities for IWT to take place.
To date, over 300 volunteers have been trained through the programme and over 13,250 illegal wildlife marketplace listings have been accurately flagged.
These illegal sites and listings are ever-evolving and sellers constantly find different ways to market and sell prohibited wildlife products online. The Wildlife Cyber Spotter Programme constantly innovates its approach and training to stay on top of these changes.
To combat poaching, WWF-Singapore supports the protection of wildlife through our regional field projects to build the capacity of wildlife rangers to conduct research and detect poaching incidents.
Rangers are responsible for safeguarding nature and protecting the rights and well-being of local communities. A major part of anti-poaching work is strengthening the rangers’ capabilities, making sure they are trained and properly equipped to monitor wildlife populations and remove any threats to wildlife species in key landscapes.
One such key landscape is Belum-Temenggor in Northern Malaysia, home to some of Malaysia’s last remaining tigers. Tigers in Malaysia have been rapidly dwindling with fewer than 150 individuals left as of 2022.
Since 2019, WWF-Singapore has been funding anti-poaching patrols in Belum-Temenggor with 75 indigenous Orang Asli rangers trained so far. Through focused operations, close to 90% decrease in active snares has been recorded and tigers have been seen with cubs, signalling a growing population. This puts the project on track to increasing the tiger population in Belum-Temenggor to 80 individuals by 2030.
75 indigenous Orang Asli rangers have been trained
Breeding tigers with cubs have been recorded multiple times
Close to 90% decrease in active snares have been recorded
WWF-Singapore works with businesses whose supply chains are at risk of supporting IWT,
and with governments to promote policy dialogue and advocate for more robust domestic policy legislation and regulations.
Introducing initiatives and programmes to track illegal trading are some of the approaches to stop trafficking in the region.
In order to eliminate illegal wildlife trade completely, buyers and sellers of illegal wildlife products must be prevented.
Initiatives like the WWF Wildlife Cyber Spotter Programme not only directly affects IWT, but sends a message to poachers and sellers that exploiting wildlife will not be easy – and it will not go unpunished.
Volunteers are trained to identify and report online listings of IWT
Listings are shared with online platforms for review and action
Listings are shared with local/regional authorities for law enforcement action