By Susan Jones
President Obama has directed Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry and Interior Secretary Sally Jewel to co-chair a Cabinet-level task force aimed at stopping wildlife trafficking in Africa.
"[I\t is in the national interest of the United States to combat wildlife trafficking," says the executive order, which Obama signed in Tanzania last week.
In addition to creating a Cabinet-level task force, Obama also directed the U.S. State Department to provide an additional $10 million in training and technical assistance to help Africa stop wildlife poaching. "This is in addition to the tens of millions of dollars provided annually by the U.S. government to combat wildlife trafficking," the Interior Department said.
As part of the effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will assign a wildlife trafficking specialist to the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam.
The executive order says the poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in their derivative parts is an international crisis that continues to escalate.
"Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates. The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations. Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability, and undermining security. More....