Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade
This week, delegates from 54 countries, governments, wildlife professionals, conservationists, wildlife trade experts, charities such as Born Free and our friends in the press and media, will gather in Hanoi, Vietnam, to drive forward efforts to end the illegal wildlife trade, especially the trade in ivory and rhino horn.
Vietnam, our hosts, is regarded as one of the destination countries for illegal wildlife trade but things may be changing.
On November 12th, in an indication of its growing commitment to change and to the protection of threatened wildlife, Vietnam will destroy 2,000 kg of seized ivory, together with 70kg of seized rhino horn. The following is a copy of the text of my video message to the meeting which has been requested by the United Kingdoms’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and which will be broadcast in the run-up to the meeting.
I have been working on this issue for nearly 33 years. Battles have been won and lost but I believe that we can still win for the animals and that the tide is, at last, turning.
“The upcoming Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade is the third in a series of global multi-stakeholder gatherings, initiated in 2014 in London by the United Kingdom Government and United for Wildlife, and followed by the Kasane meeting, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Botswana in 2015. They are all intended to help address the negative impacts of wildlife trafficking on iconic wild species, notably elephants, rhino and lions.
This vitally important meeting, hosted by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, provides an opportunity to evaluate the progress made so far towards achieving the objectives set out in The London Declaration and enhanced in The Kasane Statement, and to set further goals which will enhance protection, reduce demand and disrupt criminal activities.
Critical to this are six key objectives:
1/ Support and improve intelligence-led enforcement designed to infiltrate and dismantle the activities of organised criminal networks which currently see the illegal exploitation of wildlife as a low risk, high reward, activity.
2/ In line with United Nation’s recommendations, harmonise international penalties and legal sanctions associated with wildlife crime, including deterrent levels of sentencing and the sequestration of assets to increase the risk that those involved in organised wildlife crime are exposed to and to make it clear that, when it comes to wildlife crime, there is nowhere to run.
3/ Support and further encourage those involved in wildlife law enforcement in the field, those involved in applying evidence-based demand reduction strategies and those in the shipping and transport sector to help ensure there is no hiding place for those who would trade in the body parts of some of our planet’s most iconic species.
4/ As endorsed at CITES CoP17, close domestic ivory markets thereby removing the opportunity for illegal wildlife products such as ivory to be laundered through a legal trade.
5/ Destroy or dispose of ivory stockpiles in line with the measures also agreed at CITES CoP17
6/ Harness the talents, energy and commitment of all stakeholders, including civil society, in uniting to defeat wildlife trafficking and secure a future for wild species. In that regard, I urge UK citizens to sign petition 165905, details of which can be found on the Born Free website (www.bornfree.org.uk)
On behalf of The Born Free Foundation, a member of the Species Survival Network, and our supporters worldwide, we urge the delegates to this Conference to:
Redouble their efforts;
To build on progress to date;
To set targets and timelines for agreed objectives;
To support the implementation of those objectives; and
To respond fully to the deep concerns expressed by people around the world who fear for the survival of wild elephants, rhino, lions and many other species.
Finally, and specifically, we would respectfully ask the Government of Vietnam to further demonstrate its leadership on these issues and its commitment to conservation by introducing measures – including working with partners to resolve human-elephant conflict – that would result in a doubling of the number of wild elephants in the country within the next 10 years
I am grateful for all your hard work and I wish this vitally important meeting great success.
Will Travers OBE
President and CEO The Born Free Foundation