The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) will be able to tackle wildlife crime for a further two years after the UK government announced more than £500,000 funding until 2016.
The announcement was made in the lead up to a global conference next week in London on 12-13th February, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The funding announcement was made alongside other UK commitments to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
Traditionally tied to a one year commitment, the news means the unit will be able to put in place longer term plans to tackle the illegal wildlife trade that threatens species, and potentially funds terrorism and other serious crimes.
Measures include: funding support for forensic work and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime; improving links to control mechanisms for other serious organised crimes; and supporting collaboration and partnerships to tackle this crime.
Next week - the big Wildlife Conference
Next week the UK Government will host a global conference to make commitments to tackle the illegal wildlife trade at a two day summit in London on 12-13th February.
David Cameron will attend the conference, along with heads of government and other high level representatives from as many as 50 nations.
Countries invited include those where poaching is threatening the survival of wildlife, and the biggest markets for illegal wildlife products, including Vietnam and China.
Heads of State and other senior government representatives are expected to make further commitments to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
In response, Heather Sohl, Chief Species Advisor at WWF-UK, said: "It's great news that the government has committed funding for the NWCU for another two years instead of just one.
"We're pleased to see the recognition of the links with serious and organised crimes, but we continue to push to secure better penalties for wildlife criminals to act as a deterrent.
"This announcement in advance of international governments coming to next week's London Conference represents a positive step towards reducing poaching levels and stopping the illegal wildlife trade."
Sabri Zain, Director of Policy, at TRAFFIC International said: "The UK Government is to be congratulated for putting resources into tackling such criminal activity, as well as investing in demand reduction at the consumer end of the trade chain."
France to destroy seized ivory
Further on illegal wildlife trade, the French government will destroy three tonnes of seized ivory today. This move follows similar destruction of seized ivory by Gabon, the US, the Philippines and China.