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January 15, 2014

European Parliament Calls for Urgent EU Action Plan to Stamp Out Wildlife Crime and Trafficking

Humane Society International

  • MEPs have sent a powerful message on the urgent need to combat wildlife crime. Christophe Cerisier/iStock

STRASBOURG—The European Parliament’s adoption of a strong resolution on wildlife crime, including a call for a European Union action plan, received praise from Humane Society International.

The illegal trade in wild species and wildlife products is a multi-billion dollar industry with the EU ranking among the three biggest wildlife markets in the world. This global trade not only threatens the survival of many species and results in inhumane treatment for billions of animals every year, but also poses a risk to local livelihoods, economies, and local and national security in many countries.

Joanna Swabe, HSI’s EU Director, said:

“MEPs have sent a powerful message on the urgent need to combat wildlife crime and we hope the Commission responds swiftly. Europol estimates that the illegal trade in live animals as well as products, such as ivory and rhino horn, rakes in between $18 and $26 billion U.S. dollars a year. With the EU a major world market and transit route for this trade, the European Commission and all 28 EU Member States have significant responsibility to effectively tackle and stamp out wildlife crime. An EU plan of action against wildlife crime and trafficking is needed urgently if we stand any chance of protecting species from such exploitation.”

The Parliamentary Resolution proposes a whole host of actions to contend with wildlife crime ranging from the establishment of a specialised Wildlife Crime Unit within Europol through to the inclusion of wildlife crime as a priority in EU development aid programmes.

HSI also welcomes the Parliament’s call for the Commission to incorporate the issue of wildlife trafficking into transatlantic cooperation. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement currently under negotiation between the EU and the United States could make a strong contribution to wildlife protection. HSI is working to make sure this free trade agreement require the EU and US to fulfil their duties under multilateral environmental agreements such as CITES as well as require that both parties ban the trade in wildlife products and timber harvested illegally or taken in violation of national or international laws.

In addition to EU-level action, HSI is urging the British government to provide a firm commitment to long-term funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, the future of which hangs in the balance due to financial uncertainty.

HSI produces an online interactive Don't Buy Wild infographic to educate consumers about avoiding wildlife trade.


  • Worldwide, 7,725 species of animals including insects, birds, reptiles and 20 per cent of all known mammals are considered at risk of extinction.
  • Wildlife crime is a major global business and often involves the same organised criminals as drugs, weapons and people trafficking.

Media Contact: Joanna Swabe: +31 651 317 004, jswabe@hsi.org

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