When wildlife poachers and illegal loggers have no fear of park authorities and the legal system, park protection and law enforcement is impossible. We work to ensure wildlife crimes are punished and publicized to discourage others from entering the national park illegally for logging, mining or hunting.

Forging a relationship between the military or law enforcement and park authorities is vital to successful prosecutions. Oftentimes, laws are outdated, feckless, or confusing; it’s best to first build a foundation for successful prosecutions by altering existing laws or creating new laws and policies that provide clarity for park management, rangers, and law enforcement. Standard protocols should be recognized by all parties involved.

Park border demarcation is one of the selection criteria for our sites, as clear demarcation discourages illegal activity and assists in prosecution. We require that the park director secure a budget and install 30% of the park boundary. We install Global Park Defense signage at every 500m on all trails and roads to provide information about surveillance and patrols in the area.

Alliances are of the utmost importance when implementing GPD. Jurisdictional issues are a factor in many parks. Understanding who has arrest authority and the right to detain, as well as the potential obstacles to successful prosecution, are imperative. Bringing multiple forces together increases the chances of a lawful arrest and successful prosecution.

Introducing yourself to government and nongovernmental organizations working in the area is beneficial to all parties. Resources can be pooled and tasks can be assigned in a more efficient manner.

Investigations should always be done in the most thorough and methodical manner possible. There are a few tactics that should be practiced whenever conducting an investigation. Ask the basic questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Who is the person you are talking to, what are they doing, why are they there, etc.

Look for inconsistencies in a suspect’s story or hesitation in response to your questions. Demand definitive answers to your questions and take notes. This allows you to lock them into a story. It will be easier for them to change that story if you accept vague answers. 

A few digital intelligence tools are becoming more widespread in conservation investigations. One is Cellebrite, a software solution that can retrieve information from a suspect’s cell phone, even if that data has been deleted by the user. Law enforcement officers can confiscate a suspect’s cell phone and run it through the Cellebrite Mobile Forensics tool. The tool can then extract data from any cell phone, can be used in the field, and can add the extracted data easily to most intelligence database software. This also extracts the suspect’s phone number, which can then be brought to mobile network providers to retrieve personal information, geographic tracking, and user history. Mobile airtime scratch cards found at crime scenes can also be linked to phone numbers with the help of the mobile service provider. The internet, including websites that collate data on individuals for a fee and social networking sites, can also help investigators build a profile of a suspect.

A database of all of the information gathered during arrests is a great reference point during investigations and keeps record of repeat offenders. Whenever stopping or arresting an offender, a clear and up-close picture should be taken and a profile containing their information should be entered into the database. This way, if they are stopped or arrested in the future by a different ranger, the perpetrator would be recognized as a repeat offender and treated accordingly.

Specialized intelligence database software like IBM i2, which despite its expense is becoming the industry standard, is an excellent way to do this. IBM i2 allows investigators to input all forms of raw intelligence into a unified database, grade the quality of the intelligence, and then reveal relationships within the data. Without the ability to collate all intelligence collected, important linkages might be missed, which greatly diminishes the value of the data.

A citation system is a way to keep track of offenders and to provide evidence to police for an investigation that can be done at a later date. In many instances, rangers do not have arresting power and lack immediate support from local police and military. Even with an arresting force nearby, enforcement of laws can still be challenging if rangers lack the power to detain suspects while they wait for police.

Police forces often lack resources to respond immediately but can open investigations based on evidence and citations given by rangers. It also gives some authority to rangers in the difficult position of being forest monitors.

Training prosecutors is important as most have little experience with forest and wildlife crimes. Making arrests has little effect if the prosecution arm is weak. Oftentimes, small fines and warnings are all that get handed down for repeated wildlife crimes. They are often wrongly perceived as a minor issue in countries that already lack the proper resources to effectively combat violent crimes.

Training young prosecutors gives the opportunity to express the importance of wildlife and forestry crimes and their impact on the planet, their economy and the local communities.