The unit was announced at Edinburgh's Dynamic Earth. It will be hosted by Lothian and Borders Police, who will collect and analyze wildlife crime information and coordinate a multi-agency response. Again quoted in BBC news, Gardiner explains: "We are talking about people who think it is acceptable to kill endangered animals because their fur is a fashion statement, or steal a rare bird's egg because it's one that they don't yet have in their collection, or root out a threatened plant because they know it will fetch a fortune on the black market," he said.
In spite of the international crime angle, further information suggests that the unit will also focus on protecting species at home from attacks by individuals, including poisoning, shooting or destroying the nests of protected birds. Although new species may still be discovered occasionally, many of our familiar and beloved species are disappearing, including lesser spotted woodpeckers, willow tits, hawfinches, tree pipits, redstarts, wood warblers. The red-backed shrike, wryneck and Savi's warbler have "virtually disappeared from the UK in recent decades" according to RSPB.
The UK National Wildlife Crime Unit follow on from a pilot started in 2002 within the National Criminal Intelligence Service. The pilot effort was implemented with the support of Defra, the Scottish Executive, the Association of Chief Police Officers, HM Revenue and Customs and the Home Office. We wish them luck with the efforts going forward.