Representatives from 42 countries attending the Ha Noi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade signed a statement committing to do their part to end the supply and demand of illegally traded wildlife. Humane Society International, which was present at the signing, is urging the signatories to follow through on their promises and implement meaningful protections to save wildlife being decimated by poaching and the trade in their parts.
In particular, the Ha Noi Statement calls on governments to follow up on the commitments made from the 2014 London Declaration and the 2015 Kasane Statement to take strong action against wildlife crime on both the demand and supply sides, increase penalties against poaching and wildlife trafficking, strengthen and better coordinate international law enforcement against the criminal groups involved in wildlife crime, and work with local communities to address the wildlife trade and encourage economic development in ecotourism and other sectors that conserve wildlife.
Teresa Telecky, Ph.D., director of the wildlife department for HSI, said: “We welcome the statement of the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade which was signed by 42 countries today. The statement demonstrates high-level government commitment to stamping out poaching and illegal wildlife trade. We urge the governments to dedicate the resources and other tools needed to turn these commitments into action.”
The Ha Noi Statement was the conclusion of the conference that was attended by His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Earlier in the week, Viet Nam authorities, with the assistance of HSI, destroyed 2,177.5 kg of elephant ivory and 70.1 kg of rhinoceros horns, together with a number of specimens from wild tiger and bear that were confiscated from the illegal trade. The destroyed ivory and horn – estimated to be worth more than USD 7 million – came from the slaughter of an estimated 330 African elephants and 23 rhinos.
On Wednesday, Prince William joined HSI and the Viet Nam CITES Management Authority in an event held at a primary school in Ha Noi that was part of a government-led campaign, supported by HSI, to reduce demand for rhino horn in Viet Nam. The child-centered part of the campaign is conducted with provincial Departments of Education and Training, and teaches children about rhino poaching concerns and conservation efforts, dispelling the myth that rhino horn has medicinal value, and asking children to be rhino protection ambassadors in their families. As part of this campaign, copies of a book created for Vietnamese children called “I’m a Little Rhino” have been distributed to nearly 1.5 million school children in Viet Nam. HSI was also part of a meeting with Prince William in which NGO leaders in Viet Nam discussed the strategies being taken to eliminate the illegal wildlife trade in the country.
- The African elephant is facing an unprecedented poaching and trafficking threat. Between 2010 and 2012, poachers illegally killed an estimated 100,000 elephants to meet the global demand for ivory. Forest elephants in Central Africa have experienced a 65 percent reduction in their populations, with imminent extirpation if the poaching rate persists. In September 2016, the Great Elephant Census, the first pan-African aerial survey of savanna elephants in decades, revealed a disturbing 30 percent decline of the species since 2007.
- With only about 29,000 rhinos of five species remaining in the wild, and poaching of these iconic animals for their horns continuing to escalate, rhinos are facing a crisis. Over the past decade, poachers killed more than 6,000 rhinos across Africa, with more than 1,300 poached in 2015 alone. And the problem is spreading, evidenced by the emergence of new poaching “hotspots” where poachers did not previously target rhinos.
- HSI has been working with the government of Viet Nam since 2013 on a national, government-led campaign to reduce demand for rhino horn in the country. The multi-faceted campaign has reached an estimated 34 million people.
- HSI recently opened an office in Hanoi to continue work on wildlife and other animal protection issues in the country.