Action Against Wildlife Crime

LONDON, UK – With environmental crime ranking as the world’s third largest illegal trade, INTERPOL has joined calls at the United for Wildlife (UfW) global summit for enhanced collective efforts against the criminal syndicates behind wildlife crime and its impact on communities and biodiversity.

Poaching and trafficking undermine the rule of law, economic development and conservation efforts. Where there are transnational organised criminal groups driving the killing and extinction of iconic species such as Rhino, Elephant and big cats and endangering marine life they also threaten the security and livelihood of local communities. Trafficking of weapons and drugs, fuelling corruption and intimidation along the supply chain is prevalent.

The UfW summit (3 and 4 October 2022) gathered global leaders from conservation organisations, law enforcement agencies and the private sector to review pioneering work driving policy change, support criminal investigations and shape sustained concerted action against wildlife crime.

The Prince of Wales highlighted the serious and organized nature of wildlife crime: “The illegal wildlife trade is a crime that robs us all of our most precious natural resources, funds organized crime, and the harms of which are often directly felt by the most vulnerable communities. There are still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity, too many lives being destroyed and too many species on the brink of extinction due to this heinous crime."

There is cause for optimism. United for Wildlife is setting out to ensure that those involved in wildlife crime face a response as powerful and coordinated as any other serious and organized crime. "To bring their sinister operations out of the shadows and to ensure that communities are equipped, empowered and supported to protect themselves and their natural world,” added Prince William.

Wildlife trafficking is frequently viewed as a high-profit, low risk activity for offenders who face limited penalties.  The illegal trade in wildlife is estimated to be worth some USD 20 billion per year alone.  With its links to violent crime, corruption, and other forms of trafficking, environmental crime is a transnational criminal powerhouse worth more than USD 280 billion a year, the third most lucrative crime globally, behind drug trafficking and counterfeit crimes.“Often overlooked and under-prosecuted, wildlife crime is a sophisticated and serious crime with far-reaching and devastating consequences not just to wildlife, but to communities and the wellbeing of the planet,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Stephen Kavanagh. 

“INTERPOL recognizes wildlife crime as an international security priority and we are committed to working with all sectors to pursue the criminals, disrupt their activities and minimize their harm to life and the world’s biodiversity,” added Mr Kavanagh.

Addressing the convergence between illegal wildlife trafficking and other serious crimes and terrorism, Mr Kavanagh further emphasized how wildlife crime generates income for non-state armed groups and terrorist organizations in Central and East Africa.

Through its dedicated Environmental Security Programme (ENS) and its centre for tackling financial crime and corruption (IFCACC), INTERPOL is working with partners worldwide to target the huge profits made from these types of crimes, and help dismantle the criminal networks behind them.

Following on from this news we will be covering any developments and progress resulting from the UFW summit. In addition to covering news concerning wildlife crime at home in the UK via articles and our social media. 

"It's all about encouraging people to participate and learn about the natural world through hands on discovery."

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