EU waking up to the plight of elephants
In January the European Parliament will vote on a resolution for an EU wildlife trafficking action plan.
France has announced that it will destroy three tonnes of ivory in February as part of a strategy to help elephants and stop poaching.
A week later London will play host to delegates from 50 countries affected by the illegal wildlife trade. The hope is that range states, transit countries and consumer countries can work together to stamp out the trade in ivory, rhino horn and other species.
In December the EU Commission announced €12.3m in support of MIKES - Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species. In order to fight illegal killing of species such as elephants, MIKES will, among other things, provide law enforcement training, technical support for setting up patrol systems, and concrete operational support where required. An emergency response mechanism will also be created to allow MIKES to respond to sudden increases in the illegal killing and/or international trade in elephants and other species.
This is good. It is nowhere near enough.
The EU, and specifically the EU Commission, is uniquely positioned to deliver the drastic action that is necessary. An Action Plan will bring the coordination and funds necessary to the table so that a comprehensive effort can be made to save the world’s remaining elephants and rhinos.
If the EU is going to make a sustained and serious effort to stop the ivory trade and wildlife trafficking it must develop an Action Plan just as it has to counter terrorism, drugs, and weapons trafficking. No individual country, or within the EU Commission, no individual DG, has the resources and experience necessary to tackle this problem.
An Action Plan would bring together the funds, reach and expertise of the various member states and EU Directorate Generals in a way that can reduce demand in consumer countries such as China and Vietnam, improve Europe’s borders, stop the syndicates smuggling ivory and rhino horn for obscene profits, improve the law and order in developing countries, support range states that are diverting valuable and scarce funds to protect the animals and equip the thousands of rangers that are putting their lives on the line with little or no equipment and training.