On India visit, US official offers support to wildlife law enforcement
Illegal wildlife trade is estimated at up to US $20 billion annually, and is among the largest sources of illegal trade. Increased firepower and ruthless tactics on the part of the poachers jeopardize security, stability and the rule of law in countries across the globe. Beyond moral and environmental implications, large scale poaching threatens the livelihoods and economic opportunities of local communities.
Hormats addressed government officials, NGOs, wildlife lawyers and enforcement officials in India at an event organized by the US embassy, TRAFFIC and WWF highlighting the challenges and successes in combating wildlife trafficking. India's state of Assam already has lost nine rhinos to poachers in 2013.
He emphasized the need for high-level political will, public outreach, and greater international co-ordination and co-operation to combat wildlife trafficking, including the strengthening of regional enforcement networks such as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).
WWF-India Secretary General and CEO Singh noted the intimate link between the decline of India’s wildlife species and alarming trends in illegal wildlife trafficking. “It is imperative that issues of illegal wildlife trade should be taken up in a strategic manner, linking national agencies and senior government executives. Here, the US government can be an important partner on global wildlife intelligence, networking and sharing of best practices in enforcement.”
Dr Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Head of TRAFFIC in India highlighted the magnitude of wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade, and how it has evolved to be one of the most important challenges in conservation of species today. He said: "Whether at the local, regional or global level, the efforts to eliminate wildlife crimes need to be assisted collectively with our trained skills, scientific knowledge, and improved resources.
The US and India have worked together on wildlife conservation for over 25 years to combat poaching, manage wildlife resources, improve enforcement capacity, and reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products.
TRAFFIC’s work supporting the implementation of SAWEN objectives, through working with the Secretariat and member countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) is supported by funding from the US Department of State.