EU Steps Up Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking

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The world has witnessed a surge in wildlife crime in recent years. Shocking images have become sadly familiar: rhinos bleeding to death after being shot for their horns, sharks hunted for their fins, birds and reptiles smuggled across borders and kept in appalling conditions.

Cracking down on this criminal activity worldwide requires a stronger partnership between source, transit and receiver countries and between regional organisations. This is why the European Commission has launched an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking. It’s an ambitious blueprint to fight wildlife crime. We will fight to reduce the trafficked wildlife that enters the EU. And we will fight to dismantle the global criminal networks that profit from wildlife trafficking. The plan has three main strands – greater enforcement, better cooperation, and more effective prevention.

Wildlife trafficking has become one of the world’s most profitable organised criminal activities, thought to be worth between EUR 8 billion and EUR 20 billion [U.S. $8.8 billion – $22 billion]every year. Recent years have seen a sharp rise in global demand for these products, and the scale of trafficking has become such that it now threatens the survival of some of Earth’s most iconic species.

Under the plan, improved cooperation between agencies will make checks and enforcement in cross-border cases more effective. Two EU agencies, Europol and Eurojust, will play a major role, facilitating cooperation with joint threat assessments between Member States, investigation teams, and regular joint operations.

EU airports are used as transit points for trafficked material such as ivory or rhino horns. Ivory has been smuggled in wooden clocks en route to Asia buyers. Pangolin scales have been seized in France in transit from Nigeria to Laos. Dead seahorses have been found in parcels at airports in Germany, in transit from Peru to Hong Kong.

These examples illustrate the global scale of —> Read More

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