WWF France and Global One Health Alliance’s new report aims to inform the transport sector about tools available to help combat illegal wildlife trafficking
“Preventing and detecting wildlife trafficking on maritime, aerial and postal/courier transport chains: An analysis of innovative solutions with the potential to support law enforcement and compliance efforts” (available online) identifies five detection categories: ionising radiation, nuclear material, non-ionising radiation, trace and acoustic. These can be sub-divided into over 60 inspection tools ranging from the extraordinary noses of detection dogs to short-wave infrared imaging.
Methods, results and suitability for detecting contraband on people, in luggage, parcels and of particular importance to our stakeholders containerised cargo as well as road and air shipment are explained. Means of deployment, portable, fixed or hand held as well as efficiency and key aspects such as safety and non-invasive vs invasive are also set out for the reader. The report also looks at additional tools such as environmental DNA, information sharing tools and training resources.
There are case studies for detection dogs, computed tomography, artificial intelligence combined with 3D scanning, environmental DNA, smart containers, an electronic nose, mass spectrometry and the Europol innovation lab.
The authors point out that “illegal trade in wild animals and plants is still rampant and exploits legitimate transport operations. In the era of increased, faster and safer connectivity between territories across the globe, supported by data and the digitalisation of transport processes, innovative techniques are being explored, pilot-tested or made available to detect contraband. Some of these technologies and tools, such as canine units or specific scanning tools, are already providing successful results in disrupting wildlife trafficking efforts.”
The report concludes with six recommendations addressed to transport and government stakeholders, to encourage research and development, cooperation and knowledge-sharing to enhance the availability of innovative techniques aimed to prevent and detect wildlife trafficking.
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