Posted on 09 Nov 2016
In February 2014, senior representatives of 41 countries and the European Union adopted the London Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade, committing to tackle this multi-billion dollar transnational crime.
Similar commitments were reiterated a year later in the Kasane Statement and the second follow-on conference is due to take place on November 17-18, 2016 in Hanoi, where it is likely that a third international statement will be adopted.
While the London Declaration symbolises the growing political momentum to discuss illegal wildlife trade, many of its commitments have yet to be translated into meaningful action. Indeed, almost all of the London Declaration commitments have been made elsewhere in the past. Meanwhile, the current scale of poaching and illegal wildlife trade is alarming, with trafficking in many species reaching unprecedented levels.
In 2014, drawing on more than three decades of experience in tackling wildlife and forest crime, EIA embarked on an evaluation of the significant challenges, best-practice and progress made (although not necessarily directly attributable to the London Declaration) by some of the key countries which adopted it. These were namely Botswana, China, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda, the UK, the US and Vietnam. Countries which did not initially adopt the Declaration but which nevertheless play an important role in illegal wildlife trade such as India, South Africa and Thailand (hereafter all 15 are collectively referred to as ‘IWT countries’). As a part of its evaluation, EIA developed a set of “indicators of implementation” to use as independent benchmarks. This was produced prior to the publication of the Indicator Framework for Wildlife and Forest Crime by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), a collaborative effort of five inter-governmentalorganisations. There is, however, some cross-over in the two sets of indicators and EIA believes the ICCWC indicators are a valuable tool to assess the effectiveness of law enforcement responses to wildlife crime.
The methodology used by EIA involved extensive desk-based research of publicly available information and outreach to key stakeholders, where possible. EIA also monitored trade levels of key species with a focus on tigers and other Asian big cats, elephants, rhinos, pangolins, helmeted hornbill and totoaba. Thousands of records of seizures, arrests and prosecutions have been analysed to produce seven interactive maps on wildlife trade, available on our website: https://eia-international.org/
This report summarises the key findings of our preliminary assessment and reiterates recommendations which should be made a priority for time-bound implementation. Our assessment indicates that the basic legislation and institutional framework to combat wildlife crime does exist, although there remain critical gaps in the response of key governments.