By Emily Mellgard
Wildlife trafficking ranks among the top five most lucrative illicit commodities in the world, alongside drugs, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and weapons. Unfortunately, the response by the U.S. federal government is small.
Africa’s friends called for President Obama to discuss the escalating slaughter of elephants and rhinos during his recent six-day trip to Africa from June 27 to July 2, 2013. Poachers are decimating Africa’s elephant and rhino populations. U.S. and international leaders have increasingly been calling attention to the links between wildlife poaching and trafficking and organized crime–even terrorism.
The safari planned for the Obama family during the Africa trip, which would have been an ideal venue for a presidential statement, was cancelled due to the high security costs. Nevertheless, the president did issue an executive order to increase U.S. commitment to anti-poaching and wildlife trafficking efforts.
The executive order dedicates U.S. $10 million, to combat “wildlife trafficking, related corruption, and money laundering,” in addition to funds already dedicated to that goal. This amount is painfully small given the magnitude of the fight against poaching and trafficking. Wildlife trafficking, both in live animals and animal parts, is a U.S. $7-10 billion annual business, a thousand times greater than the funds Obama pledged to combat it.
Under the executive order, the United States will provide foreign governments with technical assistance and training to increase their capacity to halt trafficking on both a regional and a bilateral basis. More....