By Joseph Watts
Cabinet minister Justine Greening today called for an end to the illegal ivory trade, claiming that it was ruining the lives of poor people in developing countries.
The International Development Secretary said the trade devastated economies that relied on tourism, fostered corruption and supported armed criminal gangs.
She was speaking ahead of a conference in London next month at which world governments will discuss how to stamp out elephant poaching.
“The illegal wildlife trade damages the livelihoods of the poorest people who depend on natural resources to support their families,” she said. “We need to tackle it if we want to help communities develop their economies sustainably and stop the corruption fuelled by illegal wildlife trafficking.”
There has been a surge in demand for ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts in recent years, partly due to increasing affluence in developing nations.
But poaching damages wildlife-based tourism which supports thousands of jobs, said Ms Greening, adding that poachers were often involved in organised criminal networks with links to extremist groups.
Representatives from nations in Africa, Asia and elsewhere are due to attend the conference, where Prince William is expected to speak. In his drive to help save endangered species, he released a video message last year in China, where demand for animal parts for use in traditional medicine is high. He said: “As a father, I want our children to know that rhinos are not just a picture in a book.” Figures released by African nations in 2013 suggested that if poaching continued at current levels the continent was likely to lose a fifth of its elephants over the next decade. The Standard is backing an appeal by our sister papers the Independent and i for cash to support the elephant charity Space For Giants
Last year, the Government unveiled a £10 million package to support efforts to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife products, including rhino horn and elephant ivory.