Preventing Wildlife Crime in Armenia

Armenia’s geographicalCITES CITES CITES location has made the country a transit nation for global wildlife crime as animals from Asia and Africa enter Europe through former Soviet countries.

On February 27, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection (MNP), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) concluded a 5-day training workshop in Yerevan on combatting illegal wildlife trade.

The “Prevention of Wildlife Trafficking Training” workshop was attended by guests from institutions in Armenia as well as Georgia, including airport officials, customs clearance officers, representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture, and Yerevan Zoo. The theoretical and practical trainings tackled issues such as wildlife status by species, wildlife crime and enforcement, international trade conventions and organizations, as well as national legislation. The trainings were conducted by experts from IFAW Vivek Menon, Charles MacKay, Mohamed Elsayed and Maria Vorontsova.

“Wildlife crime depletes economies and spreads the risk of global health epidemics. For Armenia, this is especially important because the country has a unique biodiversity with rare plants and animals. Preventing wildlife crime means preserving the Armenia’s unique natural heritage,” said IFAW trainer Vivek Menon.

The objective of the trainings is to reduce the levels of trade and improve animal welfare standards by providing necessary knowledge and skills to law enforcement officials. The workshops focused mainly on the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), of which Armenia became a member on January 21, 2009.

On February 25, IFAW trainers met with Armenia’s Vice Minister of Nature Protection Khachik Hakobyan, during which time they discussed ideas for awareness campaigns, further collaborations aimed at decreasing Armenia’s role as a transit country for wildlife trade. The guests extended an invitation to Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection to join them at the upcoming CITES meeting, which will take place in South Africa.

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