HANOI, -- Southeast Asia has tragically suffered losses in its rich biodiversity, including tiger and rhino sub-species, while other species are being decimated, Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov told a high-level audience on Thursday, the United Nations Information Service reported.

Accepting that some headway had been made, he said the crisis continued and "an important step would be for all countries to criminalise the possession of wildlife illegally sourced anywhere in the world. Penalties should be adequate for a serious crime, and serve as a deterrent."

The UN's role was to help "build collective action to promote the healthy and sustainable use of our planet and its resources", he said at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade following similar conferences in Botswana and the United Kingdom.

"We need your help to promote further measures to strengthen criminal justice and preventive responses, including through use of the UN conventions against transnational organised crime and corruption," Fedotov cautioned.

Work in this area, he said, included inter-agency wildlife crime task forces, harmonising national laws, greater use of forensic wildlife science, and strengthening the ability of customs and border officials to deal with seizures.

UNODC, earlier this year, released the first World Wildlife Crime Report. The report outlined the global nature of this transnational organised crime with more than 164,000 seizures of 7,000 different species.

Source: Emirates News Agency