Efforts to advance collaboration in the fight against wildlife tracking and poaching were featured during the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Combating Wildlife Trafficking Symposium, hosted at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Springfield, Virginia, headquarters June 29.
DNI James Clapper opened the two-day symposium by emphasizing the importance of the collective endeavor to improve data sharing and analysis in order to impede illicit wildlife crimes.
“The [intelligence community] has learned a great deal about integrating a complex network of partners to achieve a unified goal,” said Clapper. “Understanding the problems of another agency or organization will inevitably make you a better partner, and in the end it will make us all more effective.”
The symposium provided a unique opportunity for the diverse community of entities in attendance to view the CWT mission from another vantage point.
Representatives from the Department of Interior, Department of Justice and Department of State delivered keynotes speaking to the significance of working together for a crisis that demands an all-government, all-society approach.
The speakers touched on the same themes — that by collecting and sharing data, agencies can connect the dots, fill in gaps, and target efforts to better understand and combat wildlife trafficking and poaching.
The IC’s involvement in these efforts officially began with the release of the 2014 National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking issued by President Obama. A virtual team of analysts across the intelligence community are using their knowledge and capabilities look at existing mission data analysis through the lens of combating wildlife trafficking.
“The model of the intelligence community working with non-governmental organizations, academic and international partners who have expertise, is the only way this will succeed,” said Odean Serrano, Ph.D, intelligence community lead for the combating wildlife trafficking topic of interest.
The Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service asked NGA to host a publicly-available portal to serve as a common platform to share unclassified geospatial data and information and opening up opportunities to collaborate across the combatting wildlife traffiking community.
“We tell the story more succinctly with the map of overlaid, aggregate data,” said Serrano. “We create a sharing environment that promotes collaboration and opportunity to preserve something that is recognizable, well-known, and touches nearly everyone’s lives.”
This convergence and nexus is absolutely critical to get to the heart of the problem, said Serrano.
Changing wildlife trafficking to a high-risk, low-profit practice and suppressing the trend of instability in the local communities are the shared goals of the CWT community, and especially important to DNI Clapper.
“I think we are faced with a clear moral imperative," said Clapper. "This is not a victimless crime … lives are at risk, both human and wildlife. Be an advocate, a champion, for this crucial, global effort.”
For more on the latest IC combating wildlife trafficking efforts, listen to the NGA Geointeresting podcast.