Late last year, the UN General Assembly decided to make March 3 World Wildlife Day.
On this day in 1973, the UN adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, affirming the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being.
For the UK, a particular focus has been the sharp increase in demand for illegal wildlife products. This has accelerated in the last decade. Rhino poaching has increased 5000% between 2007 and 2012, and since 2004 the Central Africa region has lost two-thirds of its elephant population. The Western Black Rhino was declared extinct last year.
That’s why my government took the initiative to convene world leaders from over forty countries for an Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference held in London last month.
Chaired by UK Foreign Secretary Hague and attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the conference sought to secure commitment by key states to take actions to help eradicate the demand for wildlife products, strengthen law enforcement and support the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by wildlife crime.
Conference outcomes are summarised in the London Declaration. As part of that leaders agreed to:
- renounce the commercial international trade in elephant ivory until such time it is agreed that elephants are no longer threatened by poaching;
- renounce the use of products from animals threatened with extinction; and
- adopt legislation that made wildlife trafficking a “serious crime” in the context of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.
These countries, supported by 11 international organisations, made bold commitments in London.
I encourage you to show your support and send the unequivocal signal that the international community will not tolerate wildlife crime. Find out more through the WorldWildlifeDay Facebook page.