In researching The Lizard King I discovered that historically the most important innovation in wildlife law enforcement was not more money or more cops, but a committed court. The creation of the Wildlife and Marine Resources Division in the US Dept of Justice and its attendant Environmental Crimes Section in the wake of the Henry Molt reptile smuggling case was the single most important development in getting wildlife crimes prosecuted. AUSA (now judge) Chris McAliley modeled her prosecutorial office in Miami after the DOJ’s Environmental Crime Section as did a prosecutor in California, resulting in the two of the most effective wildlife enforcement jurisdictions in the world. It’s worth adding that John Webb (below) was McAliley’s mentor. As usual, Azrina Abdullah says it best:
Judges warm up to green issues by Azrina Abdullah (22 Nov 2010)
MUCH has been said in my column and letters to the editor about the need for stronger enforcement and laws to shed Malaysia’s image as an illegal wildlife trade hub. The focus has been on enforcement. And to the government’s credit, laws have been improved and enforced, in addition to investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission of a senior staff of the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).
However, many tend to forget that judges play an essential role in the efforts to reduce wildlife trafficking. It is only in recent years that the judiciary was recognised as a key agent in the (more…)