Rich in biodiversity and with rapidly developing populations and infrastructure, Southeast Asia has become a hotspot for these illegal market activities. With the region's biological diversity declining at an alarming rate, there is a pressing need for con-certed regional efforts against wildlife crime.
USAID and the U.S. Department of State funded a program to help the Southeast Asian governments design and launch the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) to coor-dinate regional responses to wildlife crime. This USAID-supported program has since set the standard for national and regional responses to wildlife crime in ten ASEAN countries. In May 2010, several South Asian countries agreed to replicate ASEAN-WEN and form its own network, SA-WEN.
U.S. Government support has helped develop ASEAN-WEN through a three-pronged strategic approach: building capacity of governments to combat wildlife crime; strengthening the re-gional network; and raising awareness and increasing civil so-ciety participation.
Substantive intergovernmental and cross-border efforts to con-trol wildlife crime did not exist before ASEAN-WEN. Now, wild-life law enforcement is increasing throughout the region. The capacity building effort is yielding results: actions by ASEAN authorities increased by 60% during 2010, including 160 related arrests and 28 convictions. It has also resulted in the recovery of illegal wildlife worth over $15.3 million and the dismantling of four wildlife trafficking syndicates by program-trained task forces in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Along with South Asia, Central America has also initiated steps to replicate the WEN model.
Last updated: May 20, 2014