International Women's Day 2021: Women in Counter Wildlife Trafficking

Women are playing important roles in counter wildlife trafficking. Meet three women who are leading the charge: disrupting wildlife criminal syndicates, promoting a wildlife-free lifestyle through corporate social responsibility, and trailblazing environmental jurisprudence. They bring new perspectives to law enforcement, demand reduction and policymaking.

Disrupting Transnational Wildlife Criminal Syndicates

Senior Inspector Chotika Arintchai is a regional trainer of the Counter Transnational Organized Crime training. Photo: USAID Wildlife Asia
Senior Inspector Arintchai
“Women bring new skills and perspectives to the table. They are skilled at using communication in ways that help defuse tension. Women are more likely to gain trust and collaboration from criminals. Their attention to detail helps facilitate a more thorough investigation and evidence acquisition.”-- Senior Customs Inspector of Thai Customs, Chotika Arintchai

Senior Customs Inspector Arintchai pushed for the investigation of wildlife crime cases in the Thai Customs when the agency was more focused on seizing contrabands. In 2017 and 2018, she participated in Counter-Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) workshops supported by USAID Wildlife Asia. Senior Inspector Arintchai is now one of the trainers helping law enforcement officers in the region identify and disrupt transnational criminal syndicates involved in wildlife trafficking. Recognizing that law enforcement agencies are often more effective when there is an appropriate gender balance, USAID Wildlife Asia has been working with its counterparts in the region to encourage the participation of more women law enforcers in training, and actively engages women into its pool of trainers.

Promoting a Wildlife-Free Lifestyle through Corporate Social Responsibility

Ms. Le Thi Thu Thuy is the focal point for VCCI in its efforts to end the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife among Vietnamese businesspeople.
Ms. Le Thi Thu Thuy
“With many species under threat, the business community can make a great deal of difference by taking a stance against the illegal wildlife trade. In this way, wildlife-focused CSR activities benefit both the species they work to protect and the companies that implement them.”--Ms. Le Thi Thu Thuy, Deputy Director of Small & Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Center and a member of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) 

Ms. Le Thi Thu Thuy is a businesswoman and the focal point for VCCI in its efforts to end the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife among Vietnamese businesspeople. Knowing that Vietnamese businesses are entering a new stage of economic integration that will require higher business standards, she is championing a wildlife-free lifestyle through corporate social responsibility, convincing entrepreneurs that this will benefit their businesses as well as contribute to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Through the CHI III Initiative, USAID Wildlife Asia works with VCCI to effectively and positively shift behavior among the business community to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife and their products.

Trailblazing Environmental Jurisprudence

Justice Suntariya Muanpawong is blazing the trail for environmental jurisprudence in Thailand. Photo: USAID Wildlife Asia
Justice Suntariya Muanpawong
“The law is the backbone to combat wildlife trafficking and conserve the environment. We should ensure responsiveness of the courts, the executive and the legislative in the many facets of development and how it affects the ecosystem that sustains us.”—Justice Suntariya Muanpawong, judge and currently Secretary of the Court of Appeal of Thailand

Justice Suntariya Muanpawong, a judge and currently Secretary of the Court of Appeal, Region I Thailand, is one of the growing number of women judges who are committed to environmental jurisprudence. She is a lead author in establishing the Environmental Court of Thailand. She plays many important advisory roles in the government and has consistently been an advocate for wildlife conservation. The Supreme Court of Thailand is a key Thai government counterpart for the USAID Wildlife Asia project and Judge Muanpawong played an influential role in making that happen. The Supreme Court of Thailand and USAID partnership builds awareness within the Supreme Court and its specialized divisions and courts, develops wildlife-specific curriculum development for the Judicial Institute, supports research on judicial policy innovations and best practices, and promotes field visits to courthouses within wildlife crime hotspots in Thailand