Washington, DC – Following a pledge Sunday by world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting to better combat the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products, WWF has issued the following statement:
“Asia-Pacific leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be commended for publicly recognizing that wildlife trafficking is serious and needs to be addressed. In particular, this is a strong signal from key demand countries in Asia that rampant wildlife crime there must be stopped,” said WWF-US Senior Vice President of Conservation Strategy and Science Ginette Hemle.
“Wildlife trafficking is a global crime wave that in its wake is pushing wildlife populations to the brink of extinction, with thousands of elephants and rhinos being slaughtered each year to meet demand for illegal wildlife products. Customs and law enforcement efforts must be expanded to combat the growing criminal syndicates that smuggle contraband across borders by land, sea and air, and that make illicit profits available to finance other illegal activities, such as corruption, money laundering and arms and drug trafficking,” she said.
“We hope that Sunday’s pledge will turn into real action on the ground to protect these endangered species – and that this happens before it’s too late because this problem is only growing.”
In their Leaders Declaration, APEC leaders made the following statement related to the illegal wildlife and timber trade:
“We recognize that natural resources and the ecosystems upon which they depend are important foundations for sustainable economic growth. We therefore, are concerned by the escalating illicit trafficking in endangered and protected wildlife, including marine resources, and associated products, which has economic, social, security, and environmental consequences in our economies. We commit to strengthen our efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife, timber, and associated products, to implement measures to ensure sustainable marine and forest ecosystems management, and to facilitate sustainable, open, and fair trade of non-timber forest products. We will take meaningful steps to promote sustainable management and conservation of wildlife populations while addressing both the illegal supply and demand for endangered and protected wildlife, through capacity building, cooperation, increased enforcement, and other mechanisms.”
Elisabeth McLellan, Manager of WWF’s Global Species Programme said:
“Through the Leaders Outcome Statement, APEC countries such as Thailand, Viet Nam and China have all committed to escalate efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife, including through improved enforcement and reducing demand. These three Asian countries are all key markets and consumer countries for illegal African elephant ivory and rhino horn. This commitment at the highest political level must be turned swiftly into enhanced and concrete actions in order to help Africa preserve its natural resources of elephants and rhinos.”