London Wildlife Trade Summit wraps with pledges, but campaigns to protect wildlife go on

Watch the BBC interview with IFAW’s Tania McCrea-Steele talking about illegal wildlife trade and our work to reduce consumer demand in China.

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This week saw the UK Government, HRH Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge host an Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit in London with decision-makers from around 50 countries attending to discuss how they can work together to fight wildlife crime.

On the eve of the Summit I was honoured to be invited to meet with the Duke of Cambridge and the Foreign Secretary, William Hague in a small event just before the official reception at the Natural History Museum. I told them that I was particularly pleased that the UK was endorsing this important work from the highest levels.

Earlier in the week IFAW crushed ivory that had been generously donated by our supporters and readers of the Mirror and the Independent newspapers in order to show support for protecting elephants.

Shockingly, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, with between 25,000 and 50,000 slaughtered each year so their tusks can be used to make trinkets that nobody needs. It is important to remind consumers that every piece of ivory represents a dead elephant.

In total almost 100 kilos of ivory was donated or pledged ahead of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit. IFAW’s ivory crush has ensured that these trinkets will not find their way onto the marketplace while also sending a strong message that the UK public want to see elephants protected from the ivory trade.

Watch a video above on the IFAW UK ivory crush.

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We at IFAW have been truly touched by how many people donated their ivory to protect elephants and want to pass on our thanks to you. Without your support the crush would not have been possible.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit closed with a declaration containing what IFAW believes to be positive pledges to provide greater protection for elephants, rhinos, tigers and other threatened species. However, more must be done to ensure lasting protection for our wildlife for future generations.

We welcomed the UK’s leadership in bringing together around 50 key countries at such a crucial time to fight wildlife crime and were pleased to see a commitment to reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife products - ensuring that there are strong laws in place that are effectively enforced, and that there are sustainable alternative livelihoods so that people are not forced into poaching animals out of desperation.

However, while we broadly welcome the contents of the declaration, we are disappointed that it does not explicitly commit to eliminating domestic markets for ivory, rhino horn and tiger products. These markets confuse consumers, make enforcement difficult and provide criminals with an opportunity to launder their illegal products.

Wildlife crime has been widely acknowledged as being a serious threat to wildlife, but also has implications for international security. Now we need to maintain the pressure and ensure that governments across the world deliver on their promises.

I suspect that the Declaration will set the agenda for much of our continuing work on the illegal trade in wildlife. There have been some great aspirations set and it will be IFAW’s role to hold the states who signed up for it accountable. As ever, we will be the encouraging friend urging governments to do more…

 --RM

The Storify below highlights some of the recent news coverage from and surrounding the London Wildlife Crime Summit.

 

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia