LAHORE: Heads of state, ministers and high level representatives of 46 countries, including those most heavily impacted by poaching and illegal trade of wildlife, committed to taking “decisive and urgent action” to tackle the global illegal wildlife trade.
The strongly worded declaration was issued after two days of closed-door negotiations hosted in London by the UK government. Princes Charles, William and Harry also participated in the event.
WWF-Pakistan supported the declaration as Pakistan faces many threats to wildlife species and illegal wildlife trade exists in this region as well.
Illegal trade of shahtoosh and carcasses of endangered turtle species is a concern, whereas snow leopard and common leopard pelts are also reportedly traded.
African countries whose elephant populations are under threat were present at the occasion. Other countries that represent major transit points for ivory shipped from Africa to Asia were also in attendance, including Togo, the Philippines and Malaysia, and significantly, China, the major market for illegal ivory.
Similarly, countries at the centre of the rhino horn trade chain were represented, including South Africa, Mozambique and Vietnam, as well as some of those impacted by the illegal trade in tiger parts: Indonesia, Myanmar, Russia and China.
Measures agreed by countries signing the declaration include action to eradicate the market from illegal wildlife products; agreement to strengthen law enforcement efforts and ensure that effective legal frameworks and deterrents are in place; and moves to promote sustainable livelihoods through positive engagement with local communities.
WWF and TRAFFIC welcome the post-conference “London Declaration” for recognising the significant scale and detrimental economic, social and environmental consequences of illegal wildlife trade, including how poaching and trafficking are increasingly controlled by organized criminal networks that undermine the rule of law and good governance and encourage corruption.
Heather Sohl, chief species adviser at WWF-UK, said: “Governments signing the London Declaration sent a strong message: Wildlife crime is a serious crime and it must be stopped.
This trafficking devastates species populations, but also takes the lives of rangers, impedes countries’ economic development and destabilizes society by driving corruption.
This is a crisis, not just at a national or regional scale, but one that demands urgent global attention, and so warrants high-level political support through the appointment of a dedicated United Nations Special Representative.”