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UN Security Council can boost fight against poaching by linking it to trafficking in small arms

With Africa facing an unprecedented surge in poaching, the UN Security Council should seize the opportunity provided by today’s Arria meeting to carefully examine the links between the escalating poaching crisis and the proliferation and trafficking of small arms, and devise concrete measures to tackle them both.

“Easy access to small arms in Africa is one of the key factors behind the plunder of the continent’s wildlife by poachers and traffickers,” said Fredrick Kumah, WWF Regional Director for Africa.

Around 30,000 elephants are poached each year in Africa, while a record 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone last year. Often wildlife rangers can find themselves outgunned by poachers with military grade weaponry.

WWF hopes that today’s critical meeting, which is co-hosted by Lithuania and Angola, will convince the Security Council to act by illustrating how the proliferation and trafficking of small arms in Africa is encouraging this rampant poaching.

“The Security Council needs to show real leadership now because these interlinked crises pose a real threat to national and sub-regional peace and security, and sustainable development in Africa,” said Bas Huijbregts, Manager African Species Conservation, WWF-US, who is attending today’s meeting. “For a start, the Security Council should support the appointment of a Special Envoy for wildlife crime.”

WWF believes that the Security Council’s backing for a Special Envoy, whose mandate would include research into the linkages between wildlife trafficking and other forms of transnational crime, such as small arms trafficking, would be a major step forward.

“Guns and ammunition discovered at poaching sites are not systematically identified, recorded or traced at the moment, undermining efforts to halt the killing and put wildlife criminals behind bars,” said Elisabeth McLellan, WWF Head, Wildlife Crime Initiative. “This meeting will help highlight the need for countries to use this evidence to bring the guilty to justice, and deter others from looting Africa’s wildlife resources.”

WWF urges UN members states to enhance ranger training programs to gather forensic evidence from poaching sites; establish regulatory and monitoring frameworks for the management and disposal of confiscated weapons and ammunition; and, establish formal mechanisms for collation and exchange of information between ranger forces and international mechanisms, such as INTERPOL’s firearms tracing system, and CITES’ Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants system.

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