Will the EU lead the fight against illegal wildlife trade?
Despite growing international momentum, the global poaching crisis and surge in illegal wildlife trade show few signs of abating – largely because many countries are not living up to their commitments. At least 1,377 rhinos and around 20,000 elephants were poached in Africa last year. Pangolins continue to be trafficked out of South-east Asia and Africa in vast numbers, while India has lost 76 tigers to poaching this year – the highest number since 2010.
WWF and TRAFFIC will be calling on governments to close domestic ivory markets and illegal wildlife markets, and phase out tiger farms, while also taking concrete steps to tackle corruption, strengthen enforcement, improve legislation and increase information exchange between enforcement agencies regionally and globally.
The EU is a major destination as well as transit point for illegal wildlife trade. As pointed out by Europol in 2013, environmental crime (including wildlife trafficking) is an 'emerging crime' in the EU and 'trafficking in endangered species' is 'a niche market attracting highly specialised organised criminal groups'. The role of the EU will be critical in stopping a highly dangerous criminal activity that is depleting some of the rarest natural resources and damaging local communities.
In Hanoi, the EU is expected to live up to its commitments, and speed up the implementation of its EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking adopted earlier this year. The Achilles’ heel of this plan is the lack of clear allocation of financial resources to implementation both at Member State level and at European Commission’s level. If the EU wants to be a champion in protecting wildlife against poachers and criminal groups, it will need to provide the means to do it.
Next week (24 November), the European Parliament will vote a resolution further calling on the EU to implement the Action Plan and provide the adequate financial resources.
WWF also urges the EU to use its strong diplomatic leadership to ensure the Vietnamese government announces concrete steps to crack down on the rampant trafficking of rhino horn, ivory and tiger parts.
For more information contact:
Stefania Campogianni,Senior Media and Communications Officer, email@example.com, +32 499539736
Lee Poston, WWF Communications Director, Greater Mekong, Mobile: +66 918 832 290, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Richard Thomas, Global Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC Tel: +44 1223 651782, Email: email@example.com