Washington DC – WWF praised U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her call to stop illicit wildlife trafficking, which she emphasized as a major foreign policy and security issue in a speech on Thursday.
“Over the past few years wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before,” Secretary Clinton said. “We are increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world.”
Clinton added that illicit wildlife trafficking is “is a global issue, and it calls, therefore, for a concerted global response.”
“This is a global challenge that spans continents and crosses oceans, and we need to address it with partnerships that are as robust and far-reaching as the criminal networks we seek to dismantle.”
Secretary Clinton’s statement comes during an escalating poaching crisis around the world, which is pushing populations of endangered species like tigers, elephants, and rhinos to the brink of extinction.
The global value of illegal wildlife trafficking is as much as $10 billion per year, which ranks it as one of the largest criminal transnational activities worldwide along with arms, drugs and human trafficking.
“We have good reason to believe that rebel militias are players in a worldwide ivory market worth millions and millions of dollars a year," Secretary Clinton said.
She was speaking at a State Department event on Wildlife Trafficking and Conservation: A Call to Action that brought together foreign ambassadors, including from Kenya and Indonesia, and leaders from international organizations, non-governmental conservation organizations and the private sector.
TRAFFIC and WWF wildlife trade expert Crawford Allan spoke at the event, saying that transnational organized crime has moved into many aspects of the illicit trade in wildlife. The scale, seriousness and links to the security agenda are evident now in wildlife trafficking particularly in elephant ivory and rhino horn, Allan said.
“There is no single magic bullet, but we know what needs to be done,” Allan said. He spoke of the need to bolster existing efforts on the ground, while introducing innovative approaches such as aerial surveillance systems and coordinated intelligence efforts and analytics – all of which will send a powerful message across the trade chain from source to consumer.
“Secretary Clinton’s engagement on this issue provides the high-level political will we need to elevate the seriousness of addressing wildlife crime,” added Allan.
To learn more about this issue, visit worldwildlife.org/wildlifecrime.
To watch Secretary Clinton’s speech and Crawford’s comments, please visit http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/11/200294.htm.