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Governments from around the world have vowed to take ‘decisive and urgent’ action against the illegal wildlife trade, by signing a declaration at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.
Forty-six nations gathered for the high-level summit on Thursday 13 February, hosted by the UK government and attended by the Prince of Wales, and his sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Countries represented at the meeting included Vietnam and China, who are identified as the main user countries of rhino horn. Rhino range states including Namibia, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania were also represented.
DID YOU KNOW: In 2012 there were 78 elephants hunted and the number reduced to 38 elephants in 2013 in Namibia. All elephants were hunted in the north eastern part of the country.
The 13-page declaration acknowledges the scale and seriousness of the illegal trade in wildlife, recognising that ‘’poaching and trafficking undermines the rule of law and good governance, and encourages corruption. It is an organised and widespread criminal activity, involving transnational networks’’.
The declaration urges states to build on the existing framework for action, including actions taken under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and attention from the United Nations system, including the Security Council and the General Assembly.
DID YOU KNOW: Only four rhinos were poached in Namibia in the past few years, whereas thousands have been poached in neighbouring South Africa. This is an indication of Namibia’s well run conservation programme, which includes sharing the responsibility of wildlife protection with the communities on the ground.
Importantly, the declaration recognises that the illegal wildlife trade ‘can only be effectively tackled with the involvement of Ministries and agencies beyond the wildlife conservation sector’.
Save the Rhino is pleased to see that international governments are taking the issue of wildlife crime seriously. Susie Offord, Deputy Director comments:
We want to see all signatories immediately undertaking the actions they have committed to in the declaration. We sincerely hope that the London conference marks a turning point in the battle against illegal wildlife crime. Without urgent action, rhinos and other threatened wildlife could be poached to extinction within our generation.
Signatories have agreed to international collaboration and committed themselves to provide the political leadership and practical support needed to take a series of actions:
Eradicating the market for illegal wildlife products.
- Support effectively targeted actions to eradicate demand and supply for illegal wildlife products
- Endorse the action of Governments which have destroyed seized wildlife products being traded illegally
- Take measures to ensure that the private sector acts responsibly, and adopt a zero tolerance policy on corporate gifting of threatened wildlife species
- All government activities should renounce the use of any species threatened with extinction
Ensuring effective legal frameworks and deterrents
- Ensure that all criminals in particular ‘kingpins’ who control the trade are prosecuted and penalised to provide an effective deterrent
- Ensuring that criminal offences associated with the illegal wildlife trade are treated as ‘serious crimes’ within appropriate legislation
- Address problems of corruption and money laundering related to wildlife crime with legislation – a zero tolerance policy
- Strengthen the legal frameworks, facilitate law enforcement, and raise awareness in the judicial sector to reinforce the ability to achieve successful prosecutions
Strengthening law enforcement
- Invest in capacity building to strengthen law enforcement to protect key species populations, including well-trained officers at key sites
- Support the full range of investigative techniques and tools already deployed against other forms of organised crime
- Better cross-agency mechanisms to deal with wildlife crime
- Strengthen cross-border and regional co-operation
Sustainable livelihoods and economic development
- Recognise the negative impact of illegal wildlife trade on sustainable livelihoods and economic development
- Increase the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities and eradicate poverty
Click here to read full declaration on the UK government website
Story sourced from Save the Rhino International
Photo credit Steve & Ann Toon