The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office officially launched the London 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference on October 30, 2017, where it will work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and affected countries to stamp out wildlife crime
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office officially launched the London 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference on October 30, 2017, where it will work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and affected countries to stamp out wildlife crime.
Illegal wildlife crime (IWT) is now the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, weapons and human trafficking, with estimates valuing the trade at up £17 billion a year worldwide.
It has a number of causes, from demand for commercial goods, such as leather and seafood, to medicinal ingredients and myths: in Vietnam, the recent myth that rhino horn can cure cancer has led to unprecedented poaching in South Africa, increasing by 7,700% between 2007 and 2013.
Extreme poverty drives communities to use wildlife as valuable barter for trade and gaps in protection and corruption laws encourage a trade with low risk and high returns.
IWT has a massive impact on wildlife and humans alike, as it alters livelihoods and unbalances natural systems.
Extremely poor, developing communities rely on wildlife for food, fuel and medicine, whilst overexploitation, incidental killing or the introduction of invasive species can interrupt, perhaps irrecoverably, nature’s balance.
Key countries affected by IWT, including many within the Commonwealth, will join the UK Foreign Office, Defra and DFID ministers, NGOs and academics at the 2018 IWT Conference to build a global consensus on tackling this particular crime, which is threatening to destroy entire endangered species populations and local communities.
The London Declaration following the 2014 conference contained commitments for steps to end the illegal trade in rhino horn, tiger parts and elephant tusks, which undermines economic opportunity in developing countries and threatens species’ survival.
These commitments included supporting the existing international ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory, renouncing the use of products within governments from endangered species, amending legislation to make poaching and wildlife trafficking serious crimes under the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, strengthening regional and cross-border wildlife law enforcement networks, and increasing analysis to better understand links between wildlife crime and other corruption and terrorism.
The UK government has committed £26 million between 2012 and 2020 to fund action against IWT, which includes 47 projects funded through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, and earlier this month announced new plans to ban ivory sales in the UK.
London will host the fourth consecutive conference on IWT on October 10-11, 2018.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “The illegal trade in wildlife is a serious organised crime and an utter abomination which has no place in the twenty-first century.
“The criminals who run this trade do more than damage wildlife – they use the same networks of corrupt officials and agencies to commit further crimes, such as drug smuggling and people trafficking, along with financial crimes by laundering their illicit money.”
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