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UK leads global crackdown on illegal wildlife trade

Britain will provide new funding to a global crackdown on the trade in rhino horn, elephant ivory and other illegal wildlife products.

Britain will provide new funding to a global crackdown on the trade in rhino horn, elephant ivory and other illegal wildlife products, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today.

As well as strengthening law enforcement and reducing demand for illegal products, the £3 million of new support will focus on helping communities affected by the illegal wildlife trade boost their incomes through wildlife conservation.

Justine Greening said:

Poaching threatens endangered animals such as the white rhino, African elephant and snow leopard. It also feeds corruption, undermines global security and costs governments billions in lost revenues every year.

We cannot and will not look the other way while this continues.

This new funding will improve law enforcement, reduce demand for illegal wildlife products and, importantly, help communities find new sources of income and free themselves from this horrific trade.

Speaking from the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in Botswana, DEFRA Minister Lord De Mauley said:

Wildlife crime has reached unprecedented levels. We must not stand idly by. We must honour the commitments made in London and build on them at Kasane. This issue affects many of our important international partners deeply; and is much more than an environmental issue; it is about tackling corruption, improving security and raising livelihoods.

If we wait any longer then we will wake up to find that all the endangered species living in the wild have been killed. We must send a powerful message to poachers and traffickers wherever they operate: the illegal wildlife trade ends here.

The additional £3 million for the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) challenge fund, financed by the Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), builds on the £10 million fund announced ahead of the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, held in February last year. The first round of Britain’s challenge fund is now supporting 19 projects around the world.

Projects supported in the first call for funding include:

  • Sending experts to border points in the Horn Of Africa to provide training on wildlife law
  • Funding Interpol to improve cooperation between national agencies in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa
  • Increasing the number of successful convictions across Africa with a new wildlife forensic network, linking DNA laboratories across the region.

The illegal wildlife trade is booming. Rhino horn is now worth more than gold and is more valuable on the black market than diamonds or cocaine. The ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007. UNEP estimate that the trade costs between $7 and $23 billion every year in lost revenues, primarily for governments in the developing world.

But since last year’s London Conference there has been solid progress. Over the past 12 months ivory stockpiles have been destroyed in countries from Hong Kong to Chad. There is now tightened security, more training and more arrests across the globe.

The second call for proposals to the IWT fund is now open for applications. There will be £5 million available in this second round of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, including £3 million of new funds plus £2 million in existing funding.

Organisations can bid for funding for projects in developing countries that address the following themes:

  • Developing sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade
  • Strengthening law enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system
  • Reducing demand for the products of the illegal wildlife trade

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