In a world where the poaching and capture of wildlife to feed the demand for both live animals and their body parts remains a threat to the survival of many of the world’s most iconic species, we have at least seen an escalation of political will to tackle illegal wildlife crime.
This was demonstrated recently at the United Nations Crime Congress where I was able to speak on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) about the need to clamp down on wildlife cybercrime.
The Congress focuses on crime prevention and criminal justice.
It takes place every five years and what was different about this event, the thirteenth Crime Congress this time hosted in Doha, was that wildlife crime was discussed alongside other forms of serious and organised crime.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State, hosted the event which brought together IFAW, INTERPOL, marketplace website Etsy and TRAFFIC to discuss how all four bodies are seeking to protect animals from illegal wildlife trade over the Internet.
To an audience of crime fighters, high level government representatives from across the world and leading international bodies; I highlighted the wealth of IFAW reports showing the scale and nature of online wildlife trade, including our most recent investigation ‘Wanted – Dead or Alive’.
I explained how we are seeking to ensure there is more effective legislation, greater enforcement efforts and strong website policies in place to shut down illegal online trade.
INTERPOL presented their findings from ‘Project WEB’; the first ever international enforcement investigation into the online trade in ivory supported by IFAW, and restated their continued commitment to catching criminals seeking to trade wildlife products over the Internet.
Etsy, an international online marketplace, explained they had decided to ban the sale of ivory and other wildlife products from their site, operating as an ethical company that did not want to support the poaching of animals or foster an illegal trade.
Meanwhile, TRAFFIC focused on their investigations into the online wildlife trade in China where both IFAW and TRAFFIC have worked with enforcers and website companies to identify criminals and crack down on illegal wildlife trade.
The Doha Declaration coming out of the United Nations Crime Congress committed to fight wildlife crime by adopting “effective measures to prevent and counter the serious problem of crimes that have an impact on the environment, such as trafficking in wildlife, including flora and fauna as protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, timber and timber products and hazardous waste, as well as poaching, by strengthening legislation, international cooperation, capacity-building, criminal justice responses and law enforcement efforts aimed at, inter alia, dealing with transnational organised crime, corruption and money-laundering linked to such crimes.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) co-hosted an International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) high-level side event on Wildlife and Forest Crime.
At the event, speakers from inter-governmental organisations and government representatives from countries as diverse as China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Thailand and the United States repeatedly stated that wildlife crime needs to be addressed as a serious crime.
It was inspiring to meet other people at the United Nations Crime Congress who are genuinely very committed to stamping out wildlife crime.
I also appreciated the chance to talk to crime fighters who had never considered the huge, negative impact that wildlife crime has on disadvantaged communities across the globe. Now that I am back at my desk my focus will be on how we can translate these high level promises to fight the illegal wildlife trade into real world actions that save wild animals.
Learn more about IFAW efforts to combat wildlife crime on our campaign page.
Article source: IFAW