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Be serious about wildlife crime: UN Chief urges

 

  Wildlife Crime, Poaching, India
Last updated 09 Apr 2016 09:40:34 +0530  
As per estimations of the United Nations, as many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012. For forest elephants, the population declined by an estimated 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011. In Asia, poached African ivory may represent an end-user street value of $165 to $188 million.
 

Highlighting, on the occasion of World Wildlife Day, the importance of wildlife in protection and conservation of ecosystem, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon urged the global community to act seriously to check wildlife crimes mentioning that illegal wildlife trade undermined rule of law, degraded ecosystems and severely hampered the efforts of rural communities striving to sustainably manage their natural resources.

Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2013 for 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day is 'It's time to get serious about wildlife crime.

As per estimations of the United Nations, as many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012. For forest elephants, the population declined by an estimated 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011. In Asia, poached African ivory may represent an end-user street value of $165 to $188 million. According to new figures, elephant poaching rates remained virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to 2013, and still higher than the natural elephant population growth rates, meaning “a continued decline in elephant numbers overall is likely,” the UN apprehended.

According to CITES, 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone in 2014, which indicates that one rhino is killed every eight hours, so three in a day. Approximately 94 per cent of rhino poaching takes place in South Africa, which has the largest remaining populations, and rhino horn poached in 2014 is valued at an estimated $63 to $192 million.

As per information provided by India’s environment and forest ministry to the parliament, at least 78 tigers died in India in the year 2014 due to poaching and other reasons. Data recorded by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) says, 1033 tigers and 4084 leopards have been killed in India between 1994 and 2014.

 

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Trafficking of tiger and leopard parts is a very well-organised and high-paying one, with Indian poachers making around $1,500 (£925) for a tiger skin.

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India has 73 tiger trade hubs, spread across southern and central parts of the country, engaged in smuggling of tiger parts to China, Indonesia and other south-east Asian nations, says a report in the International Business Times.

Trafficking of tiger and leopard parts is a very well-organised and high-paying one, with Indian poachers making around $1,500 (£925) for a tiger skin, the report mentions.

The illicit trafficking of live great apes is an increasingly serious threat to chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos in Africa and Orang-utans in Asia, with seizures averaging 1.3 per week since 2014. It is estimated that a minimum of 220 chimpanzees, 106 orang-utans, 33 bonobos, and 15 gorillas have been lost from the wild over the last 14 months, according to the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).

“Illegal wildlife trade is threatening the survival of some of our most charismatic species, as well as some plants and animals you may have never heard of. And it threatens people, their livelihoods, their safety and security,” remarked CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon.

Global Financial Integrity (GFI), the Washington based research and advisory organisation, estimated the global value of the illicit trade in all forms of wildlife, excluding fishing, at between $7.8 and $10 billion.

Declaring that “The situation is serious,” CITES Secretary General urged the international community to tackle the poaching, transport and consumption of illegally traded wildlife by using the same sorts of enforcement tools, techniques and penalties used to combat other serious crimes, such as drugs or human trafficking.

“In recent years, organized crime syndicates, militias, and even terrorist elements have taken notice of the profits that can be made in the illegal trafficking of wildlife, generating an alarming up-tick in the scale of the industry and posing serious national security concerns for the United States and our partners,” the GFI reported.

“The illicit trafficking of wildlife appears to be one of the ways a number of Al Qaeda affiliates have chosen to raise money to fund their operations,” said the GFI report that also revealed that “Several militias, armed groups, and insurgent groups have reportedly profited from illicitly poaching and trafficking wildlife in Africa and elsewhere.”

"Wildlife crime is a transnational organized crime generating billions of dollars and undermining development. It is also an inter-generational crime that can permanently scar the world through the loss of some of our most beautiful creatures. To stop this, we must act now," said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is launching new initiatives to halt the illegal trade in wildlife in Asia and Africa. These initiatives will tackle wildlife crime by focussing on law enforcement, regulations, and engaging the private sector and strengthening collaboration between governments within and across the two regions.

“Combatting this crime is not only essential for conservation efforts and sustainable development; it will contribute to achieving peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fuelled by these illegal activities,” said the UN Secretary General in a special message to mark this year’s World Wildlife Day.

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