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FREELAND is dedicated to making the world free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery by increasing law enforcement capacity, supporting vulnerable communities and raising awareness. The multi-billion dollar illegal trade in protected species is one of the most lucrative illicit markets in the world today. Combined with habitat loss, it is driving many species towards extinction. Unchecked nature crime not only ravages biodiversity, but the knock-on effects can unravel entire ecosystems. The loss of important watersheds and carbon sinks, for example, accelerates global warming, endangers human health and food security Human trafficking targets vulnerable people for labor and sexual exploitation, destroying lives and tearing families apart. FREELAND believes a compassionate world is a world free of slavery.
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Message From the Field Dear Supporters, Trusted with protecting some of Asiaâ€™s most important wildlife and habitats, the regionâ€™s protected area staff often face difficult circumstances. Many risk their lives, working to guard vast territories against experienced, well armed poachers. Short on resources but not courage, they are our most important line of defense against the loss of our most important wildlife species. We at FREELAND have a passion for providing support for these forgotten heroes, and have worked with these rangers and managers for more than ten years. While rangers in Asia have frequently received short, one-off trainings, our goal is sustained mentoring and assistance for protected area staff, achieved through the PROTECT (Protected area Operational and Tactical Enforcement Conservation Training) program. The course for managers featured in this issue is an important facet of this effort. We appreciate the support of USAID and supporters like you for your continuing support for PROTECT.
Mark Bowman FREELAND Director of Field Operations
What We Fight For Freelander Eric Ash has a knack for finding the beauty of the wild: “Like many, I was enamored with animals since I was young. I worked to develop my photography with the goal of someday being a wildlife photographer. The more I learned about wildlife, the more I learned how many are under tremendous threat. My passion became conservation and I studied endangered species at university with the hope that I could someday make a difference. I retained my love of photography and continue to use it to tell stories and promote awareness about various species.” You can find these images and many others at Eric’s webpage: hewhowalkswithtigers.deviantart.com.
Karma Portrait “A simple portrait of a dear friend Karma, a snow leopard (Panthera uncia).”
Spotted “I have not been able to get a decent photo of one in years. Thankfully, I returned to the Toronto Zoo this year with a better camera.”
Emerald Boa “An emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) at the Toronto Zoo rests it head atop its curly coils, a beautiful emerald display.”
A Wary Traveller â€œA male chital (or spotted deer) emerges from the forest into a grassy meadow in Pench National Park in India.â€?
King Nothing “I was quite ready to disembark in search of greater opportunities at the famed tiger reserve, Ranthambore. I wasn’t too sure what to expect.”
Eyes of the Forest “A Sumatran tiger female (Panthera tigris sumatrae), looks at you through the grass.”
Taking Action in Vulnerable Communities FREELAND works with vulnerable communities to help find economic alternatives for potential wildlife poachers and people at risk of being trafficked. Recently FREELAND worked with the heads of projects currently operating in Laos and Cambodia, to exchange ideas and show off its model organic mushroom farm.
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The Butcher... Early this year, Thai authorities turned a chance discovery into a major breakthrough in a case against a major trafficking syndicate responsible for trafficking, butchering, and selling wildlife trophies to wealthy collectors. On February 6th, police encountered a man on a Bangkok street with hands covered in blood. When they escorted him back to a residential building they discovered a slaughterhouse, where tigers, elephants, and even zebras were being turned into exotic trophies.
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...and the Ark The next month, based on what they learned from the butcher case, a multi-agency Thai task force raided a compound in Saraburi Province, Eastern Thailand and uncovered over 200 live animals. In all, the facility held 50 different species: tigers, lions, pumas, kangaroos, flamingos, marmosets, orangutans, and red pandas. It was a virtual â€˜Noahâ€™s Arkâ€™, but one shepherding wildlife toward extinction, not survival. Thai Authorities continue to follow leads in this case, with no telling where it will lead next.
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Forming a United Front In March, a FREELAND led training course equipped participating protected area managers from across Southeast Asia, South Asia and China with the full-range of skills they need to tackle challenges head on, and created a forum where they could share innovative ideas and solutions. As part of this exchange, participants visited a nearby community outreach program that promotes organic farming as a sustainable livelihood for communities vulnerable to recruitment as wildlife poachers. The participants continue to discuss this and other ideas as part of an informal online forum called â€˜PROTECT Connectâ€™.
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Telling the stories of FREELAND’s diverse staff
Four Questions For FREELAND’s Indonesia Program Officer Fitri Chaerunisa (Nisa) joined FREELAND in 2011 and works in our new Indonesia office, hosted by the International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) of the US Department of Justice. She has quickly helped forge new partnerships to help protect her country’s diverse forests and wildlife. We recently sat down with Nisa as part of our recurring four questions segment: 1. What conservation issues are most important to you personally? The most important for me in Indonesia is to stop the poaching of animals and plants from tropical rainforests. Another one would be habitat destruction through illegal logging and mining, as this is the primary cause of species extinction. 2. What has been the most interesting thing you’ve done while working with FREELAND? One of the most interesting was spending two consecutive weeks in the forests of Thailand on two different enforcement trainings. This gave me the opportunity to learn about things as basic as survival skills in the forest, to substantive issues of government policies and practices through my interaction with various government representatives.
Nisa ( prot left) assi sts d ecte d uring area enfo a rcem ent c ours e in
3. What do you find the most rewarding or motivating about your work? To be a part of the capacity building efforts for those working on the front lines of forest protection, who work directly to helping solve the conservation issues I believe to be most important. 4. What are the things you hope FREELAND can accomplish in Indonesia in the next few years? I hope we can set up a nationally implemented blueprint for forest protection and that our work will directly help reduce poaching numbers throughout Indonesia. I would also like to increase public awareness in Indonesia on the importance of conservation and awareness on the devastating impacts of the illegal wildlife trade.
Photo: Marc Laban
New Documentary: 21st Century Sex Slaves A new documentary is bringing the unvarnished truth about the international sex trade to the small screen, bringing viewers face-to-face with the perpetrators, their victims and the international effort to stop them. The special on the National Geographic Channelâ€™s Explorer program follows FREELAND and a Thai taskforce as they investigate a dangerous Uzbek trafficking operation responsible for forcing women to work in Thailandâ€™s sex industry. The show premiered in the US on June 4, 2012 at 10pm.
Surviving Together Gets Boost from Sanctuary VI On May 10th, FREELAND Foundation received a gracious donation from Sanctuary VI Foundation to support our work on the â€œSurviving Together Program. Sanctuary Foundation raised 76,000 Thai Baht to support animals affected by Thailandâ€™s flooding, as well as helping former poachers gain a new alternative livelihood in organic farming, while also paying for new trees to be planted around the Khao Yai Forest complex.
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Building Partnerships at Vietnam’s Front Lines Vietnam has long been a transit country for the illegal wildlife trade. With increasing wealth, it is increasingly a destination for products like ivory, rhino horn and tigers. FREELAND is now working with a group of government and NGO actors in Vietnam to reduce consumption. Notably, FREELAND Director Steve Galster met with Vietnam’s National Assembly President in February to discuss the illegal wildlife trade. FREELAND is also reaching out to Vietnamese opinion leaders to build awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and join a wideranging campaign to end consumption.
A Loris’ Tale In a late night raid in March, Royal Thai Police officers arrested two illegal wildlife dealers in the seaside tourist city of Pattaya, Thailand. The action followed a FREELAND-led training for authorities in Pattaya. The training was organized in an effort to save one of Asia’s most unassuming animals: the slow loris. These small primates are highly sought after in the exotic pet trade, in large part due to their cuteness. Most people entranced by the loris don’t realize that these shy animals are poached from their homes in the forests of Southeast Asia, have their teeth pulled out so they cannot bite, and usually do not survive long outside of the wild.
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Creativity for Conservation In March, Thai students from five schools participated in FREELAND’s latest three-day nature camp in Khao Yai National Park supported by the Australia-Thailand Institute and Free the Bears. As part of the camp’s conservation education activities, the children took part in an art contest that spanned two continents. Children in Australia designed banners to highlight the plight of endangered animals native to Thailand, while the Thai children submitted designs featuring endangered Australian wildlife. Here are some of the shortlisted entries and winners judged by wildlife experts in Australia and Thailand.
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News from Around the Region
Building Awareness in Kuala Lumpur In February, Malaysian authorities welcomed Thailand’s Nature Crime Task Force, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Chiefs of National Police (ASEANAPOL) and FREELAND to Kuala Lumpur to exchange information and strategies for tackling unabated cross-border wildlife trafficking. FREELAND also organized a special screening of the documentary “Crimes Against Nature”, attracting press, NGOs and the private sector and helped spark discussion of how civil society.
Travellers to Vientiane Greeted with Anti-Trafficking Message This year, visitors traveling by air to Vientiane will be greeted by a new awareness raising campaign, supported by USAID. The message is â€œEvery time you buy, nature paysâ€? and has the potential to reach 800,000 visitors per year.
SA-WEN Exchange Visit to ASEAN-WEN Two members of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SA-WEN), based in Nepal, participated on a ten-day exchange visit sponsored by ASEANWEN and the ARREST program. The trip provided SA-WEN with best practices in policy development, sustainability and secretariat management.
HOU INAL T
Caught in the Net Criminals involved in wildlife trafficking are fast to utilize the newest technologies to support their activities, and the internet has suited their needs well – granting them anonymity and the ability to make a transaction with just one click. FREELAND and our ARREST Program partner International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) are now working together to make the web less hospitable for these criminals. Major online marketplaces like eBay, Alibaba and China’s Baidu have all agreed to delete all illegal wildlife from their sites. This is important, but we still need your help. WHAT CAN YOU DO? Report anything you see that looks suspicious to us at firstname.lastname@example.org We will follow up. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Tell your friends, spread the word, make a donation. It’s a big problem, but together we can be a bigger solution!