This Week in London: Uniting to End the Scourge of Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

February 7, 2014

In her 25 years of work on the issue of international wildlife trade, Dr. Sue Lieberman, WCS Executive Director for Conservation Policy, has never witnessed a level of poaching worse than it is today. The global initiative United for Wildlife will meet in London this week to identify solutions to the poaching crisis.

Much of the world’s wildlife is in crisis and one of the primary threats to many species is poaching and the illegal trafficking of their parts and products. This wildlife crime has escalated dramatically in recent years for multiple reasons, some of which have increasingly drawn press attention.

The international trade in parts and products of wild animals is worth more than $150 billion per year. Yes, billions. International illegal wildlife trade is considered by some experts to be the fourth largest illegal trade in the world (after drugs, weapons, and human trafficking). It involves animals and plants used for collectibles, food, pets, ornaments, curios, leathers, medicines, and cosmetics. It includes tens of millions of wild mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and other species.

But there is hope, and this story does not have to have a sad ending. Several meetings are taking place this week in London as part of a global initiative called United for Wildlife. This coalition of the world’s top conservation organizations, working with the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, has convened a major international symposium on wildlife trafficking to identify solutions to this crisis.

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