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WWF Reaction to the Hanoi Statement on Wildlife Crime

Posted on November, 17 2016

Step forward but lack of ambition was disappointing
Statement from Colman O’Criodain, WWF Wildlife Practice Policy Manager 

The Hanoi Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade that was released on November 17th is a good step forward with major commitments from donor countries – including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany – to contribute extra funding to the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), Interpol and key countries, including Viet Nam, to expand their efforts to tackle the poaching crisis and illegal wildlife trade. 

However, the number of countries that have made concrete, binding commitments, and the lack of ambition of most of those commitments, is disappointing. 

Viet Nam’s decision to host the international conference is admirable and it has helped shine a much needed light on the illegal wildlife trade across the Greater Mekong Region – a trade that is emptying forests of wildlife and impacting species such as rhinos, elephants and pangolins in Africa.

But as the host country and a major hub of illegal wildlife trade, Viet Nam needed to commit to more concrete action plans that will have an impact on the ground.

It did pledge to strictly monitor domestic markets and eradicate illegal wildlife trade points, strengthen law enforcement, improve cross border cooperation, but much more detail is needed, especially on legislative reform and the closure of tiger farms. 

In the wider Greater Mekong Region, we had hoped for strong commitments to close the most visible part of the illegal wildlife trade chain – the markets, restaurants and shops that openly sell ivory, tiger skins, rhino horn, pangolin scales and dozens of other endangered species.  It is regrettable that more countries across the region did not use this golden opportunity to announce specific timebound measures to close domestic ivory markets and tiger farms.
Rhino horns for sale in Vietnam
© Wildlife Justice Commission
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, speaks at the 2016 Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in Hanoi.
© Lee Poston / WWF