EU Member States are key players in helping to protect wildlife
Earlier this year, I reported that the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering had included wildlife trafficking in its interim report on organised crime.
In the face of ever mounting evidence, the sub-committee too made a powerful and strong recommendation in its final report on organised crime. This was for a dedicated EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking.
Last week this recommendation was backed by the Parliament when it voted in favour of the resolution.
This is yet another strong signal from the European Parliament that the EU must take action.
Wildlife trafficking is reaching record proportions. On average an elephant is killed every fifteen minutes for its ivory. To me this is a staggering figure, and one which warrants the world’s attention.
Unfortunately, the plight of the elephant or other species rarely elicits change in government policy. Only when these species are reaching the brink, and the threat is reaching humans does it appear that action may be taken.
The fact that the committee involved was not the environment committee, but one with a remit to analyse and evaluate the extent of organised crime shows that those charged with our security are taking the threat from organised crime very seriously, perhaps even more than those charged with protecting our environment.
However, despite the support the European Parliament has given to tackling this scourge, the world is still awaiting concrete action.
In Europe, we have an opportunity to assist range countries in protecting their natural heritage. The EU can provide training, resources and intelligence. The key players in achieving this are the Member States.
Many countries are already beginning to take action. I was particularly pleased to see the leadership role the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge have taken on this issue.
The UK government is now planning a summit to find a way to tackle wildlife crime. In France too President Hollande has appointed Nicolas Hulot as his ambassador to help tackle wildlife crime, whilst Germany has joined forces with Gabon to raise awareness at the UN.
I am hopeful that the political will is there to take action. If Europe is to play its part in tackling wildlife crime, all these countries must join forces and develop an action plan which as its first priority establishes an adequately funded trust fund to stop the killing.
By providing resources for the training, equipping and support of rangers and law enforcement officials, the EU can help put an end to the slaughter of our most iconic species, suffering at the hands of criminals.
So the baton now passes to our leaders. I hope they shall not fail.