The UN’s Lone Ranger: Combating International Wildlife Crime [Podcast]

Tune in to the Behind the Schemes podcast for an exclusive interview with John Sellar, former Chief of Enforcement for CITES.
Tune in to the Behind the Schemes podcast for an exclusive interview with John Sellar, former Chief of Enforcement for CITES.

If you’re interested in learning about international wildlife crime issues, this is the podcast for you: An exclusive interview with John Sellar, former Chief of Enforcement for CITES.

My interview with John marks the first episode of the re-launch of our Behind the Schemes podcast (after more than a year hiatus), where we bring you candid conversations with influential and interesting people who are fighting back against wildlife crime.

John Sellar is the author of The UN’s Lone Ranger: Combating International Wildlife Crime. John was an officer in the Scottish Police Service from 1973 until 1997, during which period he served as a detective (investigating murders, rapes and human rights abuse cases) and ultimately was officer-in-charge of an area where royal security played a major part of his remit. He then moved to the United Nations and, until 2011, was Chief of Enforcement for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), where he assisted countries in combating wildlife crime. Now retired, he undertakes work as an Anti-Smuggling, Fraud and Organized Crime consultant.

John’s book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the global wildlife crime crisis we are facing right now. John’s first-hand accounts of his time as the CITES Chief of Enforcement are at once entertaining, enlightening — and sometimes, kind of scary!

Have a listen to what John has to say about fighting international wildlife crime:

Timestamps:

[00:02:40] John talks about the need to “mainstream” wildlife crime.

[00:06:35] John talks about joining CITES with no experience with wildlife issues or knowledge of wildlife trade.

[00:10:33] John talks about “environmental” courts.

[00:17:24] John talks about ivory trafficking and terrorism and corruption.

[00:24:33] John talks about the arrest of an ex-CITES official from Guinea, and explains the roles of CITES itself, the CITES Secretariat and in-country CITES officials.

[00:31:45] John talks about animal welfare issues and CITES.

[00:34:20] Rhishja reads a disturbing passage from John’s book.

[00:38:08] John talks about the right of CITES member countries to make their own decisions regarding wildlife management.

[00:40:24] John reminds us that CITES is a trade convention, not a crime convention.

[00:43:03] John talks about the need for multi-agency responses to wildlife crime.

[00:51:33] John explains diplomatic immunity.

[00:55:20] John talks about the need to utilize mainstream law enforcement techniques, such as controlled delivery, to bring criminals to justice.

Learn more about fighting international wildlife crime:


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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.