An early highlight of the 16th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties was the presentation of AWI’s Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards, honoring those who have demonstrated remarkable effort to protect wildlife.
This award is named in memory of the late chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement, who pioneered the agency's highly effective use of covert investigations and “sting” operations to uncover illegal wildlife trade. The awards were presented by CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon at a March 5 reception hosted by the Species Survival Network and Freeland, a Thai group combatting illicit wildlife trade. They were bestowed upon nearly the entire “village” necessary to combat wildlife crime, including enforcement officers and staff in the field, a forensic scientist, an NGO that cares for confiscated wildlife, police and forestry agencies, and individuals who oversee and coordinate law enforcement investigations.
The 2013 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award recipients are:
- Marco Fiori, chief operational officer at the National CITES Investigations Unit of the State Forestry Corps, Italy, for his over-20-year career preventing illegal wildlife trade;
- David Higgins, manager of the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme, for his work in establishing this key INTERPOL program, which has a dozen officers spread across Europe, Asia and America;
- The Jiangmen Customs District Office, China, for combating the illegal shark fin trade in China;
- Kittipong Khaosamang, deputy commander of the Royal Thai Police Central Investigations Bureau, Natural Resource and Environmental Crime Division, for his efforts to combat wildlife traffickers and corruption;
- Samsundar Ramdeen, game warden of the Wildlife Section of the Forestry Division, Trinidad and Tobago, for a 36-year career as a game warden in which he distinguished himself with diligence and a serious approach to wildlife conservation;
- Dr. Karmele Llano Sánchez, executive director of International Animal Rescue Indonesia, for her work to provide sanctuary and rehabilitation for confiscated wildlife, including slow loris and orangutans;
- The Uttarakhand Forestry and Police Departments, India, for their exemplary work in investigating and seizing illegal wildlife;
- Bonnie Yates, scientist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, for her pioneering work in both wildlife law enforcement and the science of wildlife forensics;
- Six Chadian rangers gunned down while protecting animals at Zakouma National Park; and
- Thirteen Kenya Wildlife Service rangers and other enforcement staff who died in the line of duty while trying to protect wild animals and their habitats.
A full report on the 2013 Bavin awards and the recipients can be found at www.awionline.org/2013Bavin.