World Leaders Gather to Ponder Wildlife Crises

World Leaders Gather to Ponder Wildlife Crises
Thursday, 19 March, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

Governments will gather at back to back conferences in Kasane, Botswana, next week to review the successes, or otherwise, of recent attempts to better protect elephants and end illegal wildlife trade.

On Monday, 23rd March, the African Elephant Summit will gather governments from around the world to discuss and review progress on measures agreed in December 2013 intended to alleviate the poaching of elephants in the wild, driven by global demand for ivory.

This is followed on Wednesday, 25th March, by an international conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade which will review the progress made by the 41 signatories to the London Declaration of 2014 which acknowledged the scale of illegal wildlife trade and recognized that poaching and trafficking of wildlife undermined the law and was linked to corruption and organized crime, and how they intended to end it.

“Poaching of wildlife and illegal wildlife trade has reached the point of crisis, so it’s essential that governments are willing to critically examine and discuss how successful they have been in living up to the commitments they have made to safeguard wildlife,” said Jason Bell, Director of  the IFAW Elephant Programme.

“In the past 15 months dozens of governments have promised to act against the entire trade chain – range, transit and consumer nations. The Kasane summits cannot be another session in which world leaders sit and talk about a problem – we need to see if their efforts are bearing fruit in the fight against poaching and illegal trade, and for them to decide on meaningful next steps.”

The number of poached rhinos has soared in the past year, with South Africa losing a record 1,215 rhino in 2014 – a 21 per cent increase over 2013, while elephants around the world continue to be slaughtered in their tens of thousands to feed the illegal ivory trade.

 “On a more positive note, estimated tiger numbers in India have increased by nearly a third in the past three years, from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014,” said Bell.

“This shows that conservation measures coupled with commitment to law enforcement can have an impact for saving species at risk.”

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks among damaging and dangerous global crimes such as trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

The 2013 IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal wildlife trade poses to elephants, rhinos and people.

To combat this deadly illegal trade, IFAW trains law enforcement officers – more than 2,600 to date -- in wildlife trafficking prevention in  source, transit and consumer countries throughout the world. The organization collaborates with INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme, regional law enforcement bodies and national wildlife law enforcement agencies.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals 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. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com.

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