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WWF welcomes UK-led drive to root out corrupt practices that fuel international wildlife trade

WWF yesterday welcomed a UK Government initiative to include wildlife crime as part of international discussions on tackling corruption.

Meeting ahead of the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Summit today (12 May), representatives of more than 60 countries met at the Foreign Office today to discuss how to eliminate the corruption that fuels the illegal trade in wildlife.

Speakers included Defra Minister Rory Stewart,  CITES Secretary General John Scanlon, Director of Treaty Affairs of the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes John Brandolino, and Kenya’s Senior Deputy Solicitor General Ms Muthoni Kimani.

WWF-UK’s Chief Executive David Nussbaum, who facilitated the discussions, said:  

“Many crimes against the environment go hand in hand with corruption.  Whether it’s bribery of those charged with defending wildlife against poachers, back-handers to policymakers, or falsifying permits, powerful criminal forces are driving an unprecedented spike in the illegal wildlife trade.  This devastates wild populations, threatens local people and destabilises development, security and the rule of law.

“The UK government has driven international progress on illegal wildlife trade, and deserves credit for shining a spotlight on the involvement of corruption in this serious crime.  Today, representatives from around the world identified lack of accountability and effective deterrents, low or irregular pay for Government staff, and the perception wildlife crime has no serious consequences as areas requiring action.  Countries that have not already done so should also ratify the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption.”

TRAFFIC, which is part of 3C network, has identified corruption as a key factor enabling wildlife crime and strongly welcomed the attention being given by the UK government in addressing the issue. 

Sabri Zain, TRAFFIC’s Director of Policy said:

“Corruption threatens to undermine action against the organized criminal networks whose activities decimate wildlife and undermine good governance, the rule of law and the well-being of local communities. We strongly urge that guidance be developed for countries to assist them in mitigating the risks of corruption in the wildlife trade chain.” 

The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be the fourth largest transnational illegal trade, after narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. Around 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year. Over a million pangolins were estimated to have been poached in the past ten years.  And between 2000 and 2014, the parts of at least 1,590 tigers were seized in Asia.

In February WWF, along with Transparency International and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, brought together experts from conservation and anti-corruption organisations, government and academia to discuss corruption and conservation.  The participants agreed to form the Countering Conservation-related Corruption (3C) network and committed to work together to identify, record, prevent and combat the corruption which affects populations of wild animals and plants, and undermines the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Oliver Fry | Political Media Relations Manager
T: +44 (0)1483 412280 | M: +44 (0)7855 456 453

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