Noting that wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before, the United States of America today revealed its approaches to combat wildlife trafficking.
In her remarks at the partnership meeting on Wildlife Trafficking, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reports that some estimates, the black market in wildlife is rivaled in size only by trade in illegal arms and drugs.
“Today, ivory sells for nearly $1,000 per pound. Rhino horns are literally worth their weight in gold, $30,000 per pound.” -Ms. Clinton
The world is increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world, she noted.
Local populations that depend on wildlife, either for tourism or sustenance, are finding it harder and harder to maintain their livelihoods, she stressed.
Ms. Clinton says park rangers are being killed. And we have good reason to believe that rebel militias are players in a worldwide ivory market worth millions and millions of dollars a year.
She highlighted that protecting wildlife is a matter of protecting our planet’s natural beauty.
Ms. Clinton says wildlife trafficking is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue that is critical to each and every country.
Wildlife might be targeted and killed across Asia and Africa, but their furs, tusks, bones, and horns are sold all over the world, Ms. Clinton stated.
She notes that smuggled goods from poached animals find their way to Europe, Australia, China, and the United States.
The United States is the second-largest destination market for illegally trafficked wildlife in the world, she cited.
“And that is something we are going to address.” -Ms. Clinton
To address the issue of wildlife trafficking, the US government is working with leaders from around the world to develop a global consensus on wildlife protection.
Ms. Clinton cites that Undersecretaries Bob Hormats and Maria Otero have met with African and Asian leaders to discuss the immediate actions needed to thwart poachers.
Next week, Ms. Clinton reports that President Obama will personally bring this message to US partners in ASEAN and the East Asia Summit when they meet in Phnom Penh.
“We are also pressing forward with efforts to protect marine life.” -Ms. Clinton
Last week, the US joined forces with New Zealand to propose the world’s largest marine protected area, the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.
In addition, the US is strengthening its ability to engage diplomatically on these and other scientific issues.
“Building scientific partnerships is an important tool in addressing such global challenges.” -Ms. Clinton
Secondly, the US is reaching beyond governments to enlist the support of people.
According to Ms. Clinton, as part of this effort, Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, is spearheading a global outreach campaign which we will launch December 4th on Wildlife Conservation Day.
US embassies will use every tool at their disposal to raise awareness about this issue, from honoring local activists, to spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter, Ms. Clinton added.
Third, the US is launching new initiatives to strengthen and expand enforcement areas.
Ms. Clinton says USAID has already provided more than $24 million over the past five years on a range of programs that combat wildlife crimes.
In 2011, the USAID launched the ARREST program, which is establishing regional centers of expertise and expanding training programs for law enforcement.
“Finally, this is a global issue, and it calls, therefore, for a concerted global response.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton calls for all countries to join the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking.
In addition, Ms. Clinton pointed out that some of the most successful initiatives they have seen so far are the regional wildlife enforcement networks.
“These networks are critical to strengthening protection efforts and enhancing cooperation among key countries.” -Ms. Clinton
The US is calling for the creation of a global system of regional wildlife enforcement networks to take advantage of those networks that already are operating.
Ms. Clinton announces that the State Department is pledging $100,000 to help get this new global system up and running.
In addition, Ms. Clinton stresses that trafficking relies on porous borders, corrupt officials, and strong networks of organized crime, all of which undermine our mutual security.
The US is now asking the intelligence community to produce an assessment of the impact of large-scale wildlife trafficking on US security interests so they can fully understand what they are up against.
“If you love animals, if you want to see a more secure world, if you want our economy not to be corrupted globally by this kind of illicit behavior, there is so much we can do together.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton underlines that the world’s wildlife, both on land and in our waters, is such a precious resource, but it is also a limited one.
“It cannot be manufactured. And once it’s gone, it cannot be replenished.” -Ms. Clinton
She calls on countries to work together to stop them and ensure a sustainable future for our wildlife, the people who live with them, and the people who appreciate them everywhere.
Reports say that an immense, increasingly sophisticated illegal trade in wildlife parts conducted by organized crime, coupled with antiquated enforcement methods, are decimating the world’s most beloved species including rhinos, tigers, and elephants on a scale never before seen.
Much of the trade is reportedly driven by wealthy East Asian markets that have a seemingly insatiable appetite for wildlife parts.
Organized crime syndicates using sophisticated smuggling operations have penetrated even previously secure wildlife populations. Some of the elaborate methods include: hidden compartments in shipping containers; rapidly changing of smuggling routes; and the use of e-commerce whose locations are difficult to detect.