Conservation charities rejoice as UK Government pledges an additional £13 million and extra resources to help tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
Today at the Hanoi Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade the UK Government has committed to spend an additional £13 million to help tackle all aspects of the illegal wildlife trade, doubling the UK’s current investment.
The announcement followed a keynote speech by the Duke of Cambridge who said species were being killed at a "horrifying" rate. His comments were echoed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Angela Leadsom who committed to delivering real help and support to those governments at the meeting, including the host nation of Vietnam.
The presence of serious and organised criminal gangs working at a transnational level on the illegal wildlife trade has seen elephant populations decimated by a third in just seven years in surveyed areas and rhino populations facing poaching on an unprecedented scale. The industrialisation of poaching combined with factors such as dual markets, created by legal domestic ivory markets has helped to fuel the demand for endangered species. This demand is pushing some of our most iconic species to the brink of extinction.
Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said: “It is only by working together as a global community that we can ever hope to tackle the poaching crisis facing our most iconic species such as elephants and rhinos. Only by having better enforcement resources and closing down legal domestic markets around the world can we hope to save them.
"IFAW is delighted to hear the Secretary of State reconfirm the Government’s commitment to a total ivory ban in the UK. Conservation organisations, such as IFAW, were disappointed by recent changes to legislation in this area which, although positive, fell short of the total ivory ban expected. This and other announcements at the Hanoi Conference are practical step that will provide concrete help in fighting the illegal wildlife trade and should be welcomed fully."
The UK Government announced that it will be also work closely with Vietnamese authorities to improve border security at ports and airports to stop illegal wildlife products coming in to the country.
It was also recognised that destination countries are only part of the problem and part of the UK's commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade was the formation of a new China-UK agreement that will help train African border forces to spot and tackle wildlife smugglers, before ivory and rhino horn can be exported.
"We hope that all of these commitments and goodwill speeches will now be fully transposed in to real action and legislation that will start reversing the decline and helping to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade, before it’s too late”, added Mansbridge.
The Secretary of State also confirmed the UK would call world leaders together once more in 2018 at a conference in London to ensure international commitments to stop the illegal wildlife trade are delivered.
Notes to Editors –
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About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare):
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Speaking in Hanoi, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: The UK is determined to do all we can to show global leadership in fighting the illegal wildlife trade and protecting the world’s precious wildlife.
Today we are committing to double our investment with an extra £13 million to tackle all aspects of the illegal wildlife trade. This builds on our plans to ban the sale of modern day ivory, an important first step as we press for a complete ban.
This global issue will only be solved through international cooperation and the decisive action agreed in Hanoi will help to protect our wild animals for future generations.
I am delighted that the UK will continue to show international leadership on this issue by inviting world leaders back to London in 2018, where we will be ensuring the global commitments agreed today to stop the illegal wildlife trade are delivered.
John Scanlon, Secretary General of CITES said: The UK Government has generated great political momentum for combating illegal trade in wildlife through the London Declaration and its support for the Kasane Statement and this week’s high-level meeting in Hanoi.
The UK has backed up this strong political effort with critically needed financial support. Today’s announcement of an additional £4 million for the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime will greatly strengthen our efforts to tackle these highly destructive crimes in the front lines, where it is needed most. We extend our deep gratitude to the UK Government.
UK funding will support measures tackling the illegal wildlife trade across the supply chain, from poaching to smuggling and the demand that drives it. The measures announced are:
- A UK-China partnership working with border forces in southern Africa to build skills in identifying and questioning wildlife smugglers, detecting hidden wildlife products and preventing illegal goods leaving the region.
- British military training for an elite new force of anti-poaching trackers based in crucial countries such as Malawi to track criminals and bring them to justice.
- Plans for joint working between the UK and Vietnamese border forces, working with national airlines and airports to lockdown criminals transporting illegal wildlife products.
- Up to £4 million for international organisations including CITES and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to help bring criminals to justice across borders through the International Consortium for Combatting Wildlife Crime.
- Funding for Interpol to expand their work with key nations, tracking and intercepting illegal shipments of ivory, rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products.