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The United States has taken the next step towards combating wildlife trafficking, including poaching.
In February, the Departments of Justice, State and the Interior unveiled an implementation plan for the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The agencies are co-chairs of the President’s Task Force on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which comprises seventeen federal agencies and offices.
The implementation plan builds off of the National Strategy’s three main objectives of strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation. It lays out the next steps for anti-poaching efforts, identifies lead and participating agencies for each objective, and defines how progress will be measured.
“Wildlife trafficking threatens security, undermines the rule of law, fuels corruption, hinders sustainable economic development, and contributes to the spread of disease. This illicit trade is decimating many species worldwide,” Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division John C. Cruden said. “The Justice Department is committed to its role in President Obama’s national strategy to combat wildlife trafficking, both by enforcing our nation’s wildlife laws like the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act and by working closely with other federal agencies to assist our foreign partners’ enforcement efforts.”
Some of the implementation plan’s steps include: leveraging partnerships to reduce demand both domestically and abroad; strengthening enforcement capacity, cooperation, and partnerships with counterparts in other countries; and continuing efforts to implement and enforce administrative actions to strengthen controls over trade in elephant ivory in the United States.
Though SCI Foundation has some concerns regarding the ivory ban, it does support the plan’s overall objectives, as well as steps such as the plan’s recommendation of tools that will direct funds taken from wildlife traffickers back to conservation efforts and other initiatives that will assist other governments to monitor, discourage and penalize illegal wildlife trafficking.
The World Wildlife Fund also offered their support saying, “The plan targets every aspect of the illegal trade chain: protecting wildlife populations where they live, disrupting trafficking routes, reducing consumer demand, and reinforcing America’s diplomatic leadership internationally and in trade negotiations. Now, a sustained effort from both governments and on-the-ground partners is needed to end this global crisis.”
SCI Foundation is on the ground in multiple African countries working to combat poaching and promote sustainable use. The existing NGO impact has the potential to be multiplied, and perhaps this will be an achievement of the National Strategy’s commitment to developing public-private partnerships. SCI Foundation will remain poised to assist and advise on how hunter-conservationists can continue to contribute as the strongest advocates for curtailing poaching and illicit trade in wildlife.
You can read the full implementation plan here: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/237592.pdf