IFAW applauds European Commission’s Action Plan to tackle illegal wildlife trade

Friday, 26 February, 2016
Brussels, Belgium

The European Commission launched the European action plan against wildlife trafficking https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016-87-EN-F1-1.PDF in Brussels today, an historic EU initiative to prevent the killing and illegal trade of wildlife.

The 5 year plan was welcomed by IFAW who has been advocating the need for urgent EU action to stop the devastating impact of this trade on biodiversity, livelihoods, national and regional security, and economic development.

Key elements of the plan include: the recognition of wildlife trafficking as a serious crime; better implementation and enforcement; improved cooperation between enforcement agencies and countries; and strengthening the partnership of source, consumer and transit countries. A crucial component of the Action plan is the funding support to African countries to implement the recently published EU strategic approach to wildlife Conservation in Africa. Furthermore, the Action Plan calls on all Member States to prepare for handling confiscated live animals by establishing facilities for temporary care of animals and mechanisms for long-term rehoming. This is vital step to ensure the living victims of wildlife trafficking are cared for with compassion following seizures.

“We are pleased that the EU is committed to play a leadership role in wildlife protection worldwide by implementing this comprehensive plan, involving all relevant agencies and actors to cooperate and coordinate in the fight against these wildlife criminals, said Sonja Van Tichelen, European Regional Director. “With wildlife crime reaching unprecedented levels; an elephant being killed for its ivory every 15 minutes, rhino population rapidly declining and many other animal species such as reptiles and birds disappearing, immediate and concerted action is needed.”

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued around 15-billion Euros annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fourth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people and counterfeiting.

The EU acts as a market, transit route and source for the illegal wildlife trade. Europe accounts for around a third of all ivory seizures worldwide, with Belgium, France, Portugal and the UK acting as key transit routes. These countries along with Italy, Netherlands and Spain are noted for their frequent, small scale seizures of ivory[1].


Notes to editors

-          The launch of the European plan to stop wildlife trafficking happens exactly three months after the official presentation of Larger than elephant, a conservation strategy for Africa by the Commission. This 10 year strategy - drafted by conservation and development experts from groups such as IFAW and the Commission - marks a significant advancement on the EU’s previous support for biodiversity..

-          From March 1st to 3rd, the Save Wildlife conference will be held in The Hague, Netherlands. This is an initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands. Falling under the Dutch presidency of the European Union and organized in close cooperation with The Hague Institute for Global Justice and The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, the conference will focus on sustainable livelihoods and economic development and strengthening law enforcement.  The Hague Conference will also pay particular attention to the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.

-          The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people. To learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade


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

[1] according to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) 


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