In cooperation with Iran Cyber Police (known as FATA), the Department of Environment has detained 187 suspects involved in poaching, illegal fishing, wildlife trade and animal abuse, most of whom are awaiting legal proceedings.
According to Morteza Farid, director of DOE’s Inspection and Performance Evaluation Office, some have already been convicted.
The ease of access to the Internet and the popularity of social media applications have brought about both opportunities and challenges. While they are used to promote environmental awareness, some use the platforms for criminal activities, such as conducting illegal wildlife trade and promoting poaching.
“To combat environmental cybercrime and abuse of Internet and social networks, DOE has enhanced its supervision significantly over the past year,” Farid was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
While commending the efforts of netizens in highlighting these crimes online, he cautioned that well-intentioned activities can backfire and end up giving the criminals what they crave.
“These criminals crave attention and fame, both of which given by people sharing pictures uploaded by these offenders. The wider they reach, the more attention they get,” he warned.
The widespread publicity for their criminal activities might even desensitize the public and increase the odds of others getting ideas to commit the same crimes.
The official also said a large portion of the news and reports shared online are of events that happened long ago and are not recent.
Farid called on concerned citizens to report offences to DOE via its hotline 1540 instead of sharing photos and videos online.
The swarm of poachers who have taken to social media to show off their kills has led many to conclude that Iran is experiencing a staggering rise in illegal hunting, but DOE officials dismiss those claims. They believe that it only seems that way because hunters are using the social media for showboating.
Despite complying with international laws, Iranian authorities have had little success in preventing trophy hunters from killing endangered species.
DOE is the foremost authority on the matter, though the department’s meager budget and shortage of staff have made enforcing the law very difficult.
By Financial Tribune