13 February 2014
The Born Free Foundation today applauded Heads of State, Ministers and other decision makers attending a High Level Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade in London, who have just announced numerous commitments aimed at protecting iconic wild species endangered by poaching and illicit trade.
Delegates also recognised the detrimental economic, social and environmental consequences that illegal wildlife trade inflicts on many of the poorest countries across the globe.
Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation, said:
“As many as 50,000 elephants were slaughtered last year and I am heartened by today's news and the renewed government commitments to tackling the wildlife poaching crisis. Today’s decisions in London give me, and all who care about our natural world, hope. At last, the measures necessary to address wildlife law enforcement, demand elimination, and improved security are forthcoming. Destruction of ivory stockpiles is a vital step toward combating the illicit trade in ivory and I praise the Governments of Ethiopia and Chad for their commitment to destroy their ivory and put this bloody wildlife contraband out of circulation once and for all.”
The UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, also announced the launch of an Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) by the Governments of Ethiopia, Chad, Botswana, Tanzania and Gabon.
This Initiative includes an agreement to suspend all consideration of future international ivory trade for a minimum of 10 years and thereafter until African elephant populations are no longer threatened. Those signing up to the EPI will also agree to put all stockpiles beyond economic use. The five governments encouraged other African elephant range States to join them and sign up to the EPI.
Travers continued: “The commitment to refuse consideration of resuming legal ivory trade is highly significant – particularly for Botswana and Tanzania, which have long been advocates of ivory trade. Born Free warmly welcomes this change of approach, one that is consistent with the international mood and severity of the situation and congratulates Botswana and Tanzania for taking this courageous step."
Other illegally traded species, including rhino, tiger, lion and Africa's great apes, should also benefit from today’s decisions as there is a clear emphasis on enforcement in the field as well as strategies to reduce demand for products such as rhino horn in consumer countries. It was further announced that no products from threatened species will be used in official Government functions (such as shark fin being banned from Government functions in China).
The declaration also recognizes the role of corruption and money-laundering in facilitating wildlife trafficking, and calls for serious measures to be adopted to prevent these organized criminal activities. Further, the “Stop Ivory” group announced $2 million of support for the EPI, and the UK Government committed to matching this amount.
“I warmly congratulate William Hague, the UK government and the Royal Foundation for playing a leadership role and assisting wildlife trade to be recognized as a serious international crime” concluded Will Travers. “Finally, the tide is turning. If serious funding commitments follow today’s meeting then we might be witnessing a dramatic turnaround in fortune for elephants, rhinos and all the other species that for too long have suffered at the hands of human greed.”
Information about the work that the Born Free Foundation is doing to address the illegal wildlife trade