Call for donations to help stop illegal animal trade
With the holiday season upon us the Met's Wildlife Crime Unit, in partnership with animal welfare and wildlife charities, are appealing to Londoners to donate unwanted items made from elephant ivory and other endangered species to help stop the trade in its tracks.
The call for donations, which launches today, (Wednesday, 9 July) is supported by actor Ricky Gervais and will run across all London police stations until the end of the month.
Ricky Gervais, an active supporter of wildlife campaigns, said: “This is an opportunity for Londoners to show their support and to protect animals from the illegal wildlife trade by giving away any unwanted items made from endangered species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos.”
The call comes from Operation Charm, a partnership between the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit and non-Government organisations aimed at combating the illegal trade in endangered species in London. It follows a declaration made to combat illegal wildlife trade at a Government-hosted conference held in London in February this year.
At the conference, Heads of State, ministers and senior representatives of 41 countries discussed the illegal wildlife trade and its effect on species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos, recognising the importance of tackling wildlife crime at an international level. It highlighted the need to tackle consumer demand for illegal wildlife products as well as strengthening law enforcement and the criminal justice system as key tools in the fight to combat the illegal trade.
DC Sarah Bailey from the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit said: “We are asking the public to take any unwanted items they may have bought over the years to their local police station so they can be destroyed or used to educate people about the illegal trade in animal parts and its impact on species in the wild. By raising awareness and encouraging people to get behind this appeal we can potentially reduce the demand for these products.”
DC Bailey continued: “People may have unwanted wildlife products, such as family heirlooms or souvenirs from trips abroad that they no longer want but are unsure how to dispose of them.
“The sorts of items, which are by no means exhaustive, might include ivory carvings, rhino horn, big cat skins and furs, tortoiseshell, reptile skin accessories and taxidermy of endangered species.
“If anyone has any information regarding wildlife crime in the capital please contact us 020 7230 8898 or email@example.com or anonymously at Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Facts about the illegal wildlife trade:
• The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth more than £11.5billion globally;
• One elephant is killed every 15 minutes;
• Rhino poaching increased over 7500% between 2007 and 2013;
• There are as few as 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild, and trade in their parts and products is a major threat.
1. Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit:
The Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) comprises a small team of specialist officers and staff who have been appointed for their expertise and experience in wildlife matters. They deal not only with local, borough-based wildlife crime but also national and international problems that can have an impact upon London. They also support designated wildlife crime officers based in local boroughs across the Met. Part of the Specialist Crime and Operations Directorate, the WCU also shares intelligence with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and conducts joint operations with the UK Border Agency relating to the illegal trade in endangered species.
2. Operation Charm:
Operation Charm is a partnership between the Metropolitan Police Service, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), WildAid, World Animal Protection (WAP) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to combat the illegal trade in endangered species in London. Operation Charm uses a combination of law enforcement and public awareness education to tackle the illegal trade in endangered species in London.
3. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments established in 1975. It aims to ensure that the international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction and therefore the trade is strictly controlled, with trade in specimens of these species only permitted in exceptional circumstances. Elephants, tigers and rhinoceros are all Appendix I species.
Media contacts for partner organisations:
IFAW - Amanda Gent, Communications Officer, Tel: 020 7587 6725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
World Animal Protection UK - Katharine Mansell, Communications Manager, Tel: 0207 239 0632 or email email@example.com
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation & TigerTime - Vicky Flynn, Head of Brand and Communications, Tel: 01483 272323 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Useful links for further information on endangered species:
CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna - www.cites.org
IUCN: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species - www.iucnredlist.org
AHVLA – protecting CITES listed endangered species through our wildlife registration and licensing role - www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en
This Op Charm campaign is solely aimed to obtain donations of endangered wildlife products e.g. ornaments made of elephant ivory / turtle shell / tiger fur / rhino horn / whale teeth etc. NOT live animals. If people require assistance re-homing unwanted pets / exotic species they should seek advice from the RSPCA or RSPB using the following links: