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May 21, 2013

Tackling International Wildlife Crime

Humane Society International/UK

  • Poaching causes great suffering and threatens rhino populations. Christophe Cerisier/iStock

by Mark Jones

The illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is widely recognised as a multi-billion dollar industry that threatens not only the welfare and conservation of wild animals, but also local livelihoods, economies, and local and national security in many countries.

I, along with representative of other wildlife NGOs, will be attending a conference hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson MP, to call for action at the highest levels and to form a global partnership to stop the illegal trade in wildlife. The outcomes from this meeting will help to inform the UK delegation at a Heads of Government meeting later in the year.

Sign the pledge: Don't Buy Wild.

The involvement of organised criminal syndicates and the threats to national security were stressed last year by then- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the recent decision by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) to characterise international wildlife and timber trafficking as serious organised crime highlights growing global concern and the need for urgent action.

A dire situation

It is encouraging to see such high profile and influential figures in British society showing a willingness to try to address the issue of international wildlife crime. HSI/UK will continue to do our utmost to emphasize the dire and worsening situation for many wildlife species, and to urge those in a position of influence to do all they can to raise the profile of the issue with their international counterparts and to use all facilities at their disposal to reverse the trends in illegal wildlife trade.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said of the conference: “It is all too easy to think that the extinction of a species is a thing of the past, when it is a very real problem today. That is why I’m pleased to be co-hosting the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference with the Prince of Wales. This is a real opportunity to get these issues raised at the highest level internationally.

"Our campaign on endangered species, called ‘If They’re Gone...’, aims to raise awareness and encourage individuals to take action to protect some of the planet’s most iconic species. It’s by working together that we can reduce demand for endangered wildlife and related products around the world and assist communities to find long-term alternatives to the trade.”

If They’re Gone...

HSI/UK is collaborating with Defra in its ‘If They’re Gone…’ campaign, which seeks to inform and educate the British public on issues concerning the illegal international trade in endangered species.

If They’re Gone… campaign partners are asking individuals to:

  • Find out where things come from before they buy wood products for their home and look to buy products which are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
  • Switch to products that only contain sustainable palm oil and support businesses that are doing the most to switch to using sustainable palm oil.
  • Not use traditional alternative medicines containing endangered species.
  • Say no to buying products made of ivory.

Please also sign HSI's Don't Buy Wild pledge, and check out our handy infographic/guide to learn more.

Mark Jones is executive director of Humane Society International/UK.

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