The United Nations has announced plans for a Global Coalition campaign to end the illegal trade in wildlife under the theme “The future of wildlife is in our hands” on the third World Wildlife Day. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on UN agencies, CITES and partners to provide a coordinated response to wildlife crime and spread the message that there should be zero tolerance for poaching. He said: “Time is running out to save some of the world’s most iconic species. Much more needs to be done by key actors on all continents and across sectors to combat poaching and address both the demand and supply of illegal wildlife products.”
|Levels of rhinos poaching in Africa remain alarmingly high, says CITES|
Driven by growing demand for illegally sourced wildlife products, the illicit trade has in recent years escalated into a global environmental crisis, pushing several species to the brink of extinction. It is estimated that rhino poaching in South Africa has increased by as much as 8,000% between 2007-2014. The pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, is considered to be the most trafficked mammal on earth, with over a million animals taken from the wild in the past decade. Trade in live great apes, such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, is also of concern, especially as for every live animal illegally taken from the wild there are many more killed during capture and transport.
The global effort to end illegal trade in wildlife received a boost last year, as the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution urging member states to classify illicit trafficking in wildlife as a serious criminal offence. This year, the UN calls for strong political commitments to be put into action through collective efforts of governments and citizens around the world. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has made substantial progress to combat illegal trade in ivory through the preparation, implementation and review of National Ivory Action Plans by 19 key countries affected by the illicit trade.
In May 2015, the cross-continent Operation Cobra III brought together enforcement agencies from range, transit and destination countries, resulting in 139 arrests and more than 247 seizures, which included elephant ivory, medicinal plants, rhino horns, pangolins and many more. But more remains to be done. According to the latest analysis of illegal killing of elephants for 2015 has released recently by the CITES Secretariat, the overall poaching levels of African elephants remains alarmingly high. The Global Coalition campaign announced today is a joint effort by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), CITES and other partners. The campaign will call on individuals, businesses, civil society and academia to use their spheres of influence to end the illicit trade in wildlife and for governments to meet and scale up their recent commitments.
Global celebration of World Wildlife Day in New York also saw the announcement of the winners of the International Elephant Film Festival, selected from over 250 entries in 7 categories. Supporting the day’s sub-theme “The future of elephants is in our hands”, the winning movies will be screened around the world throughout 2016.