Battle against illegal tiger trade strengthens
The heads of five major international agencies forged an alliance to step up the fight against illicit poaching and trafficking in tigers.
The members of the alliance include the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), ICPO-INTERPOL, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Bank and World Customs Organization (WCO). They signed a letter of understanding on Tuesday that brings the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) into effect.
'The ICCWC sends a very clear message that a new era in wildlife law enforcement is upon us, one where wildlife criminals will face determined and coordinated opposition, rather than the current situation where the risks of detection and of facing penalties that match their crimes are often low,' CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said in a statement. 'Poaching and illegal trade have brought wild tigers close to the point of no return.'
“Already committed to protecting the environment, the global customs community is pleased to be a party to this international consortium and I am sure that WCO member customs administrations will play a key role in strengthening border controls to combat wildlife crime through enhanced cooperation and the active sharing of vital information,” added Kunio Mikuriya, WCO secretary general.
At the International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg, Russia this week, an ICCWC concept group provided enforcement-related guidance to the Global Tiger Initiative and drafted the section on combating wildlife crime in the Global Tiger Recovery Program. With the signing of the ICCWC Letter of Understanding, the five agencies are now ready to help deliver action on the ground to fight these criminal operations.
Officers from the agencies have worked together in the past to support national agencies in their efforts to fight wildlife crime, but this will be the first time that they work collaboratively in this area.
Although protected from international commercial trade through a listing in CITES Appendix I since 1975, tigers still suffer significantly from illegal trade. They are poached for their skins and body parts, which are used for decorative and traditional medicine purposes.