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Wildlife crime threatens rule of law, says UN

25 September 2012

World leaders have spoken out against wildlife crime at the United Nations General Assembly this week during discussions on strengthening national and international governance. Gathering in New York for the global body’s 67th annual meeting, officials highlighted wildlife trafficking along with other severe threats to the rule of law such as corruption and drug running.

In a written statement, permanent Security Council member United States highlighted “the harm caused by wildlife poaching and trafficking to conservation efforts, rule of law, governance and economic development.” The rapidly-growing illicit international trade in endangered species products, such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger parts, is now estimated to be worth $5 billion per year globally.

Responding to the news, Heather Sohl, Senior Species Policy Officer, of WWF-UK said: “The illegal wildlife trade can have severe consequences for people as well as the environment, yet it is not considered a serious crime by many governments. It is often a low risk and high profit criminal activity, which is a dangerous combination.”

During the High-level Meeting, Gabon’s President Ali Bongo took the occasion to reaffirm his country’s commitment to combatting illegal poaching and trafficking of wildlife: “Such organized crime is increasingly affecting the environment and biodiversity through poaching and illegal fishing,” he said. “Gabon intends to strengthen its criminal justice system to combat this phenomenon. But such efforts will require a greater international legal cooperation.”

Earlier this year, President Bongo oversaw the burning of Gabon’s seized ivory stockpile after a full audit supported by WWF and its partner TRAFFIC.

WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife monitoring network, are campaigning for greater protection of threatened species such as rhinos, tigers and elephants. In order to save endangered animals, source, transit and demand countries must all improve law enforcement, customs controls and judicial systems. WWF and TRAFFIC are also urging governments in consumer countries to undertake demand reduction efforts to curb the use of endangered species products.


Notes to editors:

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of IUCN and WWF.

For more information:
Cara Clancy, Press Officer WWF-UK
Tel: 01483 412 305, Email: cclancy@wwf.org.uk

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