World leaders clamp down on the illegal wildlife trade

18 February 2014 | News story

Heads of State, ministers and high-level representatives of over 40 countries as well as 11 international organizations have committed to taking decisive and urgent action to tackle the global illegal wildlife trade.

The London Declaration, announced by the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague last week, includes action to eradicate the market for illegal wildlife products, strengthen law enforcement efforts and ensure effective legal frameworks and deterrents are in place. It also promotes sustainable livelihoods through positive engagement with local communities.

“IUCN welcomes the Declaration adopted by the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade", said Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission. 'It builds on previous agreements and is a further sign of the growing political commitment to combat the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade. This declaration includes the actions that are needed to get this insidious trade under control, focusing improved benefits to local communities from conservation, greatly enhanced law enforcement, and action to reduce demand for wildlife products in consumer countries." 

Illegal wildlife crime not only threatens the survival of species, but also people's livelihoods and national security, especially in Africa. The London Conference, in uniting political commitment across different sectors, including security, development and environment, through high-level engagement, has therefore delivered a timely boost to the fight against illegal wildlife crime.

During the meeting, delegates from a number of states reported on their heightened national efforts to tackle wildlife crime which, in many cases, have resulted in more arrests of poachers and significant seizures of illegal wildlife products. However, the continued involvement of well-armed, sophisticated and organized criminals threatens to overwhelm their species protection efforts and the new high- level political attention afforded by the London Conference was welcomed.

IUCN’s President Mr Zhang Xinsheng who addressed the conference said “IUCN strives for a just world that values and conserves nature. We therefore commend this conference because it is not only addressing law enforcement and demand reduction as solutions, but it is also embracing the need to support local communities in pursuit of sustainable livelihood opportunities”.

IUCN welcomes the announcement that Botswana will host a meeting in 2015 to evaluate the progress and challenges faced in implementing the London Declaration, and the earlier measures on which it is built.