The United States Sets Up a Taskforce to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

Further to our news story about President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa this week we are highlighting the exciting news about the new Executive Order set up by the US Administration to combat illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking across the globe.

President Obama is setting up a new taskforce and strategy in the hope that the mighty resources available to the US can be used by other governments, mainly in Africa and the Far East, to end the awful poaching epidemic that is threatening to wipe out many endangered species across the world but in particular in Africa. He intends that not only financial aid but also expertise in tracking, investigation, policing and enforcement as well as legal expertise, financial expertise and political expertise will all be combined to help nations who are at the centre of this crisis.

This historic Executive Order was created yesterday 1st July and is a major victory for wildlife campaigners and conservationists who finally have some incredible political support behind them. There will be a major investment of financial support for the fight with a commitment of $13 million US dollars. President Obama is also creating a powerful Presidential Taskforce which will be co-chaired by the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney General who will all report to the President through the National Security Advisor. Representatives from all major government departments will also be attending such as the Depts. of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Transport and Defense. The Task Force will have to develop and implement a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and have 180 days to do it in.

President Obama is fully aware that this battle to protect our wildlife is vital for all of us. Many of the poaching gangs operating between Africa and the Far East are criminal gangs and much of the money being made in Africa is going straight into the hands of terrorist and pirate organisations who are using the money to buy weapons and gain more power. It is therefore very much in everyone’s interests to crack down on illegal poaching and the gangs who carry it out.

The Presidential Taskforce will produce a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking which will focus on issues relating to combating trafficking and curbing consumer demand. These will include: effective support for anti-poaching activities; coordinating regional law enforcement efforts; developing and supporting effective legal enforcement mechanisms; and developing strategies to reduce illicit trade and reduce consumer demand for trade in protected species.

The Executive Order states:

“The poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their derivative parts and products (together known as “wildlife trafficking”) represent an international crisis that continues to escalate. Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates. The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations. Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fuelling instability, and undermining security. Also, the prevention of trafficking of live animals helps us control the spread of emerging infectious diseases. For these reasons, it is in the national interest of the United States to combat wildlife trafficking.”

“In order to enhance domestic efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, to assist foreign nations in building capacity to combat wildlife trafficking, and to assist in combating transnational organized crime, executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall take all appropriate actions within their authority, including the promulgation of rules and regulations and the provision of technical and financial assistance, to combat wildlife trafficking in accordance with the following objectives……”

You can find the whole executive order on the Whitehouse’s own website.

This truly is a historic step forward in the battle against poaching and wildlife trafficking and it may be coming just in time to save our most endangered species. With the huge increases in poaching in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda, DRC and many other countries it is certainly timely. Let’s hope that this marks the start of a brighter future for the mountain gorillas of Central Africa and the rhinos and elephants of Southern Africa and for all the other threatened species around the world.

Posted by Ruth Bolton

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