Countries commit to curb wildlife crime at Botswana conference

Government leaders who met in Kasane, Botswana, last month have reaffirmed their determination to scale up responses to the global poaching crisis. New measures were adopted in the Kasane Statement to help tackle the unprecedented surge in illegal wildlife trade. The Statement builds upon the commitments in the London Declaration to eradicate the market for wildlife products, ensure effective legal frameworks and deterrents against wildlife crime, strengthen law enforcement, and support sustainable livelihoods.

Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks. © WWF / James Morgan

Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks.
© WWF / James Morgan

 

The Statement calls for the engagement of relevant community groups and the appropriate retention of benefits from wildlife resources by local people. Participants also agreed to engage further with the private sector, including logistics and transport companies, which are uniquely placed to stem the flow of illicit wildlife products but often find themselves an inadvertent vector for wildlife trafficking.

At the consumer end of the trade chain, extra impetus will be injected into understanding the motivations and behaviour of users of illegal wildlife products.

“Wildlife criminals have been reaping big profits for very little risk for too many years but the commitments agreed to in London and now Kasane could change the game by drastically increasing the risks for traffickers while also reducing their rewards,” said Carlos Drews, WWF Director Global Species Programme. “The Kasane Statement also provides important backing for an ambitious United Nations General Assembly resolution on wildlife crime, which would raise the stakes even higher and encourage a more concerted global drive against transnational organized crime.”

According to WWF, a strong UNGA resolution would be the ideal mechanism to monitor and report on the implementation of the commitments made in London and Kasane, which will be vital to the long-term success of global efforts to reduce the illegal wildlife trade.

“It’s a year since London and while the tide is slowly turning against wildlife criminals, more effort is urgently needed because poaching levels are still far too high,” said Drews. “Important progress has been made but the war against illegal wildlife trade will only be won if governments continue scaling up their efforts and working together to turn these commitments into concrete results.” 

Countries adopted a number of additional measures, including focusing on tackling money laundering and other financial aspects of wildlife crime.

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