Sri Lanka CWT Awareness, Capacity & Empowerment (ACE) Program


Funded by the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), Sri Lanka Counter Wildlife Awareness, Capacity & Empowerment (ACE) Program is a project implemented by The Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), the Freeland Foundation and Blue Resources Trust to facilitate formal and informal interactions between law enforcement authorities, prosecution, the judiciary, and civil society in the detection of wildlife trafficking to seizure of assets and prosecution of wildlife traffickers. It also aims to establish systems that actively operate beyond the grant period by developing locally contextualized Counter Wildlife Trafficking (CWT) tools, legal guidelines, interagency mechanisms, and national and cross-border networks working with local stakeholders and international experts. The combined efforts will aim to result in a long-term CWT program activated by the Sri Lanka government with a sustainable CWT strategy to combat wildlife traffickers operating in and beyond Sri Lankan borders.



Sri Lanka harbors invaluable biodiversity and high endemism. However, due to the strategic location of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has become a source and a transit hub for illegal wildlife products making their way to wildlife markets across the globe. Among these are a variety of illegally sourced wildlife; such as sharks, sea horses, sea cucumbers and other terrestrial and marine species.

Wildlife trafficking is broadly defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as follows:

Wildlife trafficking involves the illegal trade, smuggling, poaching, capture, or collection of endangered species, protected wildlife (including animals or plants that are subject to harvest quotas and regulated by permits), derivatives, or products thereof.

Sri Lanka is also a key source that is often targeted by bio-pirates to source genetic material and therefore, necessity has arisen to empower the prosecutors of Sri Lanka to effectively combat wildlife trafficking through enhanced and strategic prosecution. Thus, this effort is to strengthen the foundation of prosecution in the system of law enforcement in Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan marine waters are influenced by tropical climate that make the waters temperate so it can support rich and diverse variety of fauna and flora. Thus, Sri Lankan waters are considered as one of the most diverse oceans of the world. The rich biodiversity due to the diverse coastal and marine ecosystems such as extensive mangrove forests, coral reefs, seagrass beds, coastal mud flats, beaches, and open waters.

As a biodiversity hotspot with a wealth of economically important marine species, Sri Lanka is a lucrative target for Illegal marine wildlife trafficking. Recording the correct taxa being illegally traded is critical for conservation and prosecution efforts. However, it is often difficult to differentiate the different species.

Identification Toolkit for Most Trafficked Marine Species in Sri Lanka’ has been designed to assist identification of marine wildlife species which are commonly found in wildlife traffic in Sri Lanka. Further, it is designed as a quick reference for enforcers to determine if a case before them requires more scrutiny or investigation.

This toolkit provides information on key identification features for the species or taxa. For each of the species, the scientific and common English names are listed. The Identification of commonly trafficked marine wildlife in Sri Lanka guide features more than forty marine wildlife taxa, including some of the country’s most frequently confiscated live marine fauna, parts, and products. Hard-to-distinguish species are listed in this guide, such as marine mammals, fishes,

manta & devil rays, sea horses, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and gastropods.