wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  PlanetArk 12 Feb 07
US Urges Tougher Policing of Wildlife Black Market
Story by Daniel Wallis

Yahoo News 10 Feb 07
US launches international campaign against illegal wildlife trade
by Karen Calabria

(AFP) - The United States has launched an international campaign to boost efforts to stem illegal trafficking of wildlife, a market that garners at least 10 billion dollars annually.

The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), founded by the US with India, Australia and the United Kingdom, will support efforts to enforce international wildlife treaties in developing countries.

It will also seek to curb demand for illegal wildlife products. "It is estimated that the black market in wildlife worldwide could be worth some 10 billion dollars annually, perhaps even twice that amount," Claudia McMurray, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science said Saturday.

"There are many developing countries that urgently need assistance to counter the threats - threats that are undermining the international target to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010," she added told reporters here.

The CAWT will engage governments, civil society organisation and industry to crackdown on the black market, mainly for endangered species that scientists say often helps the spread of fatal diseases such as ebola, SARs and avian flu.

Activists lament that smuggling of these species and their products, often through the same illicit routes used by drug and arms traffickers, pose a threat to biodiversity and wildlife tourism that is a lifeline for several developing economies.

A number of global treaties forbid trade of endangered species but efforts to enforce these deals in poor nations often falls far off target as countries grapple with a lack of trained personnel and resources.

"This campaign is about helping developing countries meet their obligations under international treaties and conventions," UNEP spokesman Nick Nuttall told AFP.

"Many countries are strong on the protection side of these treaties but national governments often lack the resources to put real teeth into the enforcement," McMurray added.

The coalition will work with customs and wildlife authorities around the world to educate those responsible in enforcing laws against the smuggling of wildlife.

"It sounds fairly simple but it just isn't happening right now," McMurray said.

While many people are aware that elephant ivory is illegal, consumers are ignorant on whether tortoiseshell, coral and reptile skin souvenirs are products of the garden variety or endangered species, thus necessitating a widespread public awareness campaign.

The CAWT, funded voluntary by individual members, will earmark funding for an aggressive public awareness campaign that will include public announcements and posters in airports, it said. "There is a lot of complacency about (illegal trade in wildlife) but this coalition will give a boost to ... how big this problem is and what it will take to solve it," International Fund for Animal Welfare president Fred O'Regan told reporters.

PlanetArk 12 Feb 07
US Urges Tougher Policing of Wildlife Black Market
Story by Daniel Wallis

KENYA: February 12, 2007 NAIROBI - A senior US official called on Saturday for better consumer education and tougher policing to combat a multi-billion dollar global black market in wildlife.

The illegal trade in animals and plants has grown to more than US$10 billion a year, experts say, making it the world's third biggest source of criminal income after drugs and guns.

"We have to try to stop demand while hitting supply through improved enforcement," Claudia McMurray, US assistant secretary for the environment, told Reuters. "That is the way to actually see very strong results, at least within our lifetime."

She was speaking ahead of the launch of a new coalition to fight trafficking that groups the United States, Britain, India and Australia with a dozen business and conservation bodies.

Experts say it will have its work cut out taking on well-organised crime syndicates fuelled by enormous profits. Contraband from powdered rhino horn to organs from endangered tigers can sell for more than their weight in gold, largely driven by Chinese demand that has surged as the country's economy rapidly expands.

As a result, most attempts to strike the traffickers have focused on Southeast Asia. Early last year, states in the region deployed special wildlife crime-busting units with some success.


McMurray hailed these raids, including the seizure in July in Bangkok of hundreds of shawls worth more than US$10,000 each and made from the wool of slaughtered rare Tibetan antelopes. But they need more staff, better training, equipment and sometimes weaponry, she said in an interview after a major UN environment meeting in Kenya.

Experts question some countries' political will to follow through on prosecutions. Both India and China have stiff penalties for wildlife smugglers, but India has convicted only about 30 in three decades, and more than 1,000 cases are still pending before its courts.

A main focus of the new Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) will be to try to slash demand by teaching Western consumers more about banned products ranging from tropical plants and birds to turtles and African elephant tusks.

The United States was key, McMurray said, as it was the second biggest market for illegal wildlife products after China.

For example, she said, a shop in her Nairobi hotel was openly displaying necklaces made of Indian Ocean coral. "They are selling endangered species right there in the lobby," McMurray said. "They shouldn't be doing it, but the average tourist doesn't know that and thinks it must be OK."

You CAN make a difference at home: join Acres!

Related articles on Wildlife trade and Singapore
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com