EU needs to step up battle against wildlife trade as 40kg of ivory seized in Paris

Friday, March 11, 2011
Brussels, Belgium
French customs officials seized 40kg of ivory from a private residence in Paris on the evening of March 8, 2011.
The 40 kilos of ivory consisted of several statues depicting warriors, religious figures, Buddhas and elephant tusks. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) salutes this achievement but warns that it is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Every year over thousands of elephants are poached for their ivory. What we are seeing in Paris is just a glimpse into one of the world’s largest illicit trades,” said Lesley O’Donnell IFAW’s EU Director.” It begins in Africa where organised militias and gangs poach elephants and sell on the ivory to fund their illegal activities and it leads to China, Japan, and indisputably, Europe.”

The human cost of the ivory trade in Africa is immense. Each year numerous park rangers die trying to protect elephants from poachers armed with military grade weapons.

As a keystone species elephants are vital for protecting the biodiversity integrity of a region and the increase in poaching means that they could well be wiped off the map in certain regions.

Although IFAW has trained over 10,000 wildlife trade enforcement officers worldwide much more needs to be done.

“The EU must step up in the fight against the global trade in wildlife,” continued O’Donnell. “We need better enforcement of existing wildlife trade regulations in the EU, we urge the EU to take the lead internationally in condemning any loosening of ivory trade regulations and to help the African countries that are asking for support in this war on wildlife smuggling.”

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