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Combatting wildlife crime

Latest News12 May 2017

More than 10 000 Vietnamese businesspeople reached

TRAFFIC's Thu Dinh Thi Minh presents on lessons learnt from current deliveries of Corporate Social Responsibility and wildlife protection
TRAFFIC's Thu Dinh Thi Minh presents on lessons learnt from current deliveries of Corporate Social Responsibility and wildlife protection

Quang Ninh, Viet Nam, May 2017—Since June 2015, more than 10 000 businesspeople across 45 Vietnamese cities and provinces have gained the tools and methods to adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that incorporate wildlife protection. read more

Current Status

Wildlife crime undermines the livelihoods of communities
Wildlife crime undermines the livelihoods of communities
Environmental crime is vastly expanding and increasingly endangering not only wildlife populations but entire ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods and revenue streams to governments. The value of environmental crime is 26%  larger than previous estimates, at $91-258 billion today compared to $70-213 billion in 2014, according to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL on 4 June 2016. The report reveals that this new area of criminality has diversified and skyrocketed to become the world’s fourth largest crime sector in a few decades, after drug trafficking, counterfeit crimes and human trafficking, growing at 2-3 times the pace of the global economy. The Rise of Environmental Crime finds that weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems, is threatening species with extinction and has far-reaching impacts and threats to human security andsustainable development.

Estimates of the illegal trade in wildlife are generally around $7–23 billion annually. Illegal harvest and trade includes a range of species and iconic ones like gorilla, orangutan, elephant, tigers and rhinos, Tibetan antelope and pangolin to coral, birds, reptiles and sturgeon for caviar. RangersWorldwide, over 1 000 rangers have lost their lives to poachers in the past 10 years.ElephantA March 2013 inter-agency report by UNEP, CITES, IUCN and TRAFFIC, titled Elephants in the Dust, states that elephant are now at dire risk because of the dramatic rise in poaching for their ivory. Increasing poaching levels, as well as loss of habitat, are threatening the survival of African elephant populations. In March 2016, CITES stated that more African elephant are being killed for ivory than are being born, owing to the high levels of poaching. Africa’s elephant population has declined by an estimated 111 000 in the past decade primarily due to poaching, according to the IUCN’s African Elephant Status Report, released on 25 September 2016.

Rhino

Statistics by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. The 2017 figure is a projection, based on previous statistics.
Statistics by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. The 2017 figure is a projection, based on previous statistics.
The Javan, Sumatran and black rhino are considered critically endangered and the Indian rhino vulnerable by the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. The Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011 and only an estimated 60 are left in the wild, in Indonesia,  and none in captivity, while the Sumatran rhino was declared extinct in Malaysia and fewer than 100 of the animals remain on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. In Africa the number of black rhino in the wild is estimated at 5 000 individuals and that of white rhino at 20 000. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011 and only three northern white rhino remain.

According to IUCN data, wildlife criminals have killed at least 5 940 African rhino since 2008. South Africa currently conserves 79% of Africa’s rhino and has suffered the bulk (85%) of the crime. For the first time in a decade, thanks to the concerted efforts by all involved in countering the onslaught, poaching in South Africa decreased in 2015. It did so again in 2016. However, the number of rhino killed remains alarmingly high and KwaZulu-Natal saw an increase from 118 rhino poached in 2015, to 162 in 2016.

Number of rhino poached in South Africa in 2016: 1 054

  • In Kruger National Park: 662
  • In KwaZulu-Natal: 162

Africa is now losing 4 elephant per hour and 3 rhino per day.

COUNTERACTIVE MEASURES

© Koos van der Lende and Michael Viljoen
© Koos van der Lende and Michael Viljoen
Thanks to the support of the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries and other donors, Peace Parks Foundation has been working closely with the South African government and its conservation management authorities, South African National Parks and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in implementing the multifaceted Rhino Protection Programme.

Supported by Cartier, Peace Parks Foundation and Panthera are working through Panthera’s Furs for Life Project to conserve the world’s most persecuted big cat – the leopard.

THE FOUNDATION'S PRIMARY AREAS OF ASSISTANCE TO GOVERNMENTS:

Wildlife crime cannot be fought on one front only. While the region’s governments are endeavouring to address the demand side, using diplomatic channels, those same governments and other stakeholders are working to stem the tide at ground level. Peace Parks Foundation is assisting the region’s governments in their endeavours to combat wildlife crime. As with all TFCA work, donors play a vital role. Please assist us with this crucial undertaking.
1. Supporting rangers with the following:
  • Information gleaned from conservation unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and informants;
  • Training via the Southern African Wildlife College;
  • Equipment such as sniffer dogs and night vision binoculars;
  • Incentives and rewards; and
  • Facilitating successful prosecutions.
2. Community development: 3. Facilitating cooperation between TFCA partners:
  • Harmonisation of policies and legislation; and
  • Joint training for joint operations.
4. Understanding the supply and demand of wildlife products:
  • Facilitating the devaluation of rhino horn, thereby rendering it worthless and of no value for purported medicinal or ornamental purposes, or as a status symbol; and
  • Encouraging research in order to better understand the supply and demand dynamics;
5. Establishing partnerships:
  • Forming partnerships to provide assistance and support to the SADC ministries for the environment and their conservation agencies in order to combat poaching;
  • Partnering with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and its two conservation agencies, South African National Parks and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the joint custodians of the world's largest wild rhino population. Also partnering with Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organisation, to protect and revive southern Africa’s leopard populations; and
  • Collaborating with various international conservation agencies and research entities that could make a meaningful contribution to countering wildlife crime.

International Reaction

© Michael Viljoen
© Michael Viljoen
  • The value of environmental crime is 26 % larger than previous estimates, at $91-258 billion today compared to $70-213 billion in 2014, according to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL on 4 June 2016. The Rise of Environmental Crime finds that weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction.

  • On 24 May 2016 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime launched its inaugural World Wildlife Crime Report. One of the main messages the new report aims to convey is that wildlife and forest crime is not limited to certain countries or regions, but is a truly global phenomenon.

  • On 25 January 2016 UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Thiaw, speaking at a retreat of the AU Executive Council, said: 'In fact, it's a cruel irony that the finance lost through the abuse of natural resources costs Africa double the amount it receives in international aid.'
'Africa's unrivalled wealth of natural resources proportionately attracts the tentacles of many criminal networks that reach deep into the continent. These resources are the very future of the African nations. Stealing them deprives countries of the ability to choose and determine their own future and economic development, for their own people, as part of a global world,' said Mr. Thiaw in his speech. Considering the huge economic benefit that African countries owe to ecotourism, ecosystem services and sustainable harvesting of natural resources, he called for urgent actions to achieve sustainable ecosystem management in the region. He urged the African Ministers to assume an active role in addressing this issue, especially by integrating wildlife conservation into African diplomacy.
  • On 30 July 2015 the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution committing countries to step up their collective efforts to address wildlife crime and put an end to the global poaching crisis.
Resolution A/RES/69/314
on Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife was co-sponsored by Gabon, Germany and more than 80 other nations and is the culmination of three years of diplomatic efforts. “This is an historic day—the world has sent an unequivocal and collective signal at the highest-level that ending wildlife crime is a top priority,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.