“Humanity is the guardian of the natural world, and these winners are at the tip of the spear. Without their commitment to justice, our environmental laws and safeguards are a paper tiger. Though their work may often go unrecognized, it is their qualities of courage, dedication and integrity we need to see more of to preserve our planet,” Dechen Tsering, UN Environment Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
Wichian Chinnawong, the Kanchanaburi wildlife park chief arrested a construction billionaire - Premchai Karnasutra - for poaching charges. Wichian was the leader of a group of rangers who had an encounter with hunters in Kanchanaburi wildlife park, killing and eating endangered animals. It was at that point that Wichian arrested them and pursued court charges against them. Due to his heroic act, Wichian was honoured by the United Nations for outstanding work in preventing transboundary environmental crime, and was also applauded by the President of Italian-Thai Development (ITD), in February 2018.
At the awards ceremony, the United Nations highlighted that wildlife trafficking is under the spotlight. Winners from China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam were also awarded for disrupting international criminal networks that have laid waste to wildlife across multiple continents.
According to a report by INTERPOL and UN Environment released in 2016, abuse of the environment is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world. Worth up to USD 258 billion, it is increasing by five to seven per cent every year and converging with other forms of international crime. It is therefore a growing threat to peace, security and stability.