World Marches to Demand an End to Illegal Trade in Wildlife


Human Wrongs Watch

The illegal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth largest illicit trade, topped only by the trade in narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
Photo source UNEP

Photo source UNEP

October 4, 2014 – Today, citizens in over 120 cities across the world are campaigning to save the world’s elephant and rhino populations which have fallen victim to an illegal wildlife trade now worth up to US $213 billion each year.*

The recent move by many countries to destroy their ivory stockpiles, the landmark 2014 London Declaration, and a recently adopted UN resolution has put the illegal trade in wildlife under a renewed spotlight and high on the agenda of the international community.

The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will carry the voice of an ever-growing number of people on all continents who are calling for further concerted international action to end the senseless slaughter of these two iconic species.

The number of killed elephants in Africa is in the range of 20 – 25,000 per year, out of a population of 420,000 – 650,000, and poached African ivory may represent an end-user street value in Asia of an estimated US $165-188 million of raw ivory, in addition to ivory from Asian sources.

Rhinos have disappeared entirely from several Asian and African countries in recent years. Rhino poaching has increased by over 7000 per cent in South Africa since 2007, with over 1000 rhinos poached in 2013 alone in South Africa, home to over 80 per cent of Africa’s rhinos, which number around 25,000 in total across the continent. Rhino horn is now worth more than gold and platinum, and is more valuable on the black market than diamonds or cocaine.

Elephant poaching and ivory smuggling levels remain alarmingly high at over 20,000. More large ivory seizures in Africa than Asia for the first time. Photo: CITES

Elephant poaching and ivory smuggling levels remain alarmingly high at over 20,000. More large ivory seizures in Africa than Asia for the first time. Photo: CITES

“We must recognise that the illegal trade in wildlife forms part of an environmental crimes economy that is not only destroying species and habitats, but is also jeopardizing livelihoods, peace and security of local communities and nation states,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director.

The illegal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth largest illicit trade, topped only by the trade in narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

Organized criminal networks are cashing in on the poaching crisis, frequently operating with relative impunity and with little fear of prosecution. Available evidence points to the clear involvement of transnational organized criminal networks and non-state armed groups, including terrorist groups, in the business of illegal trade in wildlife.

Ivory allegedly provides a portion of income to militia groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, and is likely a key source of income to the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Sudanese Janjaweed.

A relatively fresh carcass being turned over to look for bullet wounds on the underside at Zakouma National Park, Chad. Photo: Darren Potgieter/CITES/UNEP

A relatively fresh carcass being turned over to look for bullet wounds on the underside at Zakouma National Park, Chad. Photo: Darren Potgieter/CITES/UNEP

“In our search for solutions, it is important to realize that there is no “one size fits all” answer to the poaching crisis. Fast-track measures must be implemented to address the current poaching crisis, beginning at local and national level, but also mobilising concerted international efforts to take account of the diverse socio-economic, legal and market dynamics across range, transit and consumer states,” added Mr. Steiner.

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), convened in June this year for the first time at the UN Environment Programme’s headquarters in Nairobi, provided a landmark occasion in strengthening the political commitments to address the issue of illegal trade in wildlife.

With its universal membership of 193 Members States of the United Nations, UNEA adopted the first-ever UN Resolution focused on illegal trade in wildlife, which recognized, with deep concern, the increasing scale of illegal trade in wildlife and its products and its adverse economic, social, security and environmental impacts.

The Resolution called for reinforced actions and enhanced international cooperation and coordination involving numerous UN agencies to implement existing commitments to address illegal wildlife trade, including those under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). (*Source: UNEP Release).

Read also:

Celebrating the Majesty of One of the Most Threatened Animals on World Elephant Day

Massive Smuggling of Elephant Ivory, Rhino Horn and Great Apes

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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