Celebrity Vet Promoted USAID Counter Wildlife Trafficking Efforts

BANGKOK -- Today, Dr. Patarapol "Lotter" Maneeorn, Thailand’s popular veterinarian, announced his five-year public commitment as a Wildlife Champion with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s USAID Wildlife Asia program to help end trafficking in Southeast Asia and China.

"We have to fight this battle on many fronts,” Dr. Patarapol said at a USAID Wildlife Asia Regional Conference on Innovations in Counter Wildlife Trafficking in Bangkok. "The stakes have never been higher and the need to act never more urgent. It has taken just 40 years for the planet to lose 50 percent of its wildlife. The urgency is now. The time is now."

Dr. Patarapol’s plea for action came during the two-day conference, which highlighted how innovation will be at the forefront of combatting the illicit trade in elephants, rhinos, tigers and other wild cats and pangolins– the four endangered species that USAID Wildlife Asia is fighting to protect.

Some of the groundbreaking innovations featured at the conference included:

  • WildScan, a smartphone app developed with USAID support by the Thailand-based non-governmental organization Freeland that helps police and customs officers rapidly identify illegally traded species.
  • NOSE, a portable device that helps identify species through odors; since it can be used in the field, the solution could help authorities prosecute offenders and trace trafficking routes; and
  • A handheld X-ray machine being tested by Chiang Mai University that can distinguish between African, Asian, real and fake ivory.

"We are very pleased that Dr. Patarapol has added his voice as a Wildlife Champion to help drive down demand for wild animals as pets and products," said USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia Director Beth S. Paige. "The transnational crime syndicates behind wildlife trafficking are going more and more high-tech. To fight them, we need fresh ideas and energy from dedicated people like Dr. Patarapol, and cutting-edge innovations such as the ones we learned about this week."

USAID Wildlife Asia is a $23-million, five-year initiative supported by the U.S. Government, as part of broader multi-agency efforts to tackle global wildlife trafficking. The program builds on USAID’s previous support that resulted in training of more than 2,300 officers from 14 countries, helped lead to a ten-fold increase in law enforcement actions, including over 1,300 arrests and the seizure of more than $150 million in criminal assets.   

USAID Wildlife Asia will build on these strengths and lessons, putting resources where they are needed most in countries such as Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, which are fighting black markets for illegal wildlife trade. The project focuses on strengthening law enforcement, building political will to strengthen laws and improving coordination between U.S. government agencies working in this area.

For photos of Dr. Patarapol at the event, please visit https://www.flickr.com/gp/usaidasia/32mw0T(link is external)

For more information, contact:

Richard Nyberg, USAID Senior Communications Advisor rnyberg@usaid.gov

Montakan Tanchaisawat, USAID Communications Specialist, mTanchaisawat@usaid.gov


First published on USAID Asia website on March 15, 2017.