U.S. Pledges To End Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

Commitment To Save Endangered Species On World Wildlife Day

By Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State and Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States

Today, the world celebrates the first ever World Wildlife Day. Here in America, the bald eagle, the grizzly bear, the salmon and the American bison are distinct examples of the centrality of wildlife to our folklore, our history and our shared national heritage. These beloved creatures and countless other wildlife species are reason for us to take pause today — and everyday — to appreciate nature’s blessings.

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

Thanks to the concerted efforts of conservationists and lawmakers over the years, and the continuing enforcement of wildlife laws in the United States, we can still celebrate these iconic symbols of America.

But many other species, both here at home and around the globe, face critical challenges. Sophisticated, organized criminal rings are decimating majestic animals such as the African elephant, rhinos, and dozens of other species. Just last year, poachers slaughtered an estimated 35,000 African elephants, amounting to over 95 elephants killed per day. The brutality doesn’t end there; it also takes a great toll on human life. Poachers have murdered scores of park rangers who got in the way of coveted elephant tusks. They take away livelihoods of families and communities who depend on tourism revenues.

The illicit trade in wildlife trafficking — from tiger skins to illegally harvested fish — generates an ugly profit of more than $19 billion per year, which is a conservative estimate. Rhino horn, in fact, is worth more than gold or cocaine, and can fetch $30,000 per pound on the black market. And demand for elephant ivory is increasing in market around the world.

palm oil kills orangutans

Wildlife Crime Decimating Species

The market for ivory carvings, rhino horn, shark fin delicacies, tiger pelt decorations, and the like is fueling an underground, illegal economy that creates new market opportunities and revenue sources for transnational criminal networks. The high-profit, low-risk nature of the crime continues to draw in even more nefarious criminal elements, including some groups with links to terrorism and rogue military personnel. Wildlife trafficking is undermining the rule of law throughout the supply chain — from breeding official corruption on the ranges, at ports, and in courts, to driving away honest park rangers and local communities who fear for their lives. And wildlife crime is quickly decimating iconic species, whose disappearance — a looming and real risk — would strike to the core for all the people of the world.

We must act now. Last month, the President announced his National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Our three co-chairing agencies — the Departments of State, Justice and Interior — are leading the President’s whole-of-government fight against wildlife trafficking by pursuing a three-pronged strategy: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships internationally and domestically with local communities, NGOs, private industry and others to combat wildlife poaching and illegal trade.

ivory traffickers Tanzania

Strong enforcement is critical to stopping those who kill and traffic in protected wildlife. The United States takes wildlife trafficking crimes very seriously, and we have had significant successes over the years in prosecuting those who smuggle and traffic in elephant ivory, rhino horns, South African leopard, Asian and African tortoises and reptiles, and many other protected species. The Strategy will enhance enforcement efforts here in the United States as well as the work we do to help our foreign partners develop their capacity to adopt and effectively enforce laws that will stop poachers and wildlife traffickers.

Striking a blow against the demand that fuels the illicit trade is another cornerstone of the Strategy. A key element of achieving that objective was the President’s announcement of a near ban on commercial trade of elephant ivory — a prohibition of imports, exports and domestic sale of ivory, with a very limited number of exceptions. We expect the U.S. market for commercially traded elephant ivory to dry up once the ban is in place and previous loopholes closed.

The ban builds on an increasing global awareness about the need to take on the wildlife traffickers. Last November, the United States destroyed six tons of confiscated ivory in a demonstration of our commitment to fight this crime and its devastating implications. We are not alone in the fight. Kenya, Gabon, The Philippines, China, France and, most recently, Chad, destroyed their own confiscated ivory, and Hong Kong has announced their intention to follow suit. These efforts are raising the issue’s profile at home and abroad.

elephant conservation Tanzania

Kill The Trade

You can do your part too. Do not buy suspicious goods. Do not buy ivory — even small trinkets or jewelry. Turn down the offer to buy that tiger skin rug. Reject the shark fin soup. Do not purchase that pair of python skin boots or that exotic pet. Do not be fooled by the false medical sales pitch about rhino horn. Many wildlife products — from sea turtle bracelets to beluga sturgeon caviar to rosewood guitars — may be protected under international and domestic law. Always be an informed consumer and make sure that your purchases are legal and won’t be harmful to wildlife populations. And tell your friends and family to do the same.

World Wildlife Day will happen once a year. But we, as policy makers and as individuals who care deeply about wildlife, call upon you to join your government, your friends, your neighbors, and your communities in this fight daily. Together, we can address this serious threat to global security and save these iconic species. We can make a difference for ourselves, and for generations to come.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johnkerry/on-our-first-ever-world-wildlife-day-lets-put-an-end-to-illegal-wildlife-trafficking_b_4889834.html?utm_hp_ref=green

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Why You Should Care About Wildlife Conservation

Tribute To World Wildlife Day

Without action to protect biodiversity at a time of disappearing habitats and increased poaching, Black Rhinos, Sumatran Tigers, Western Lowland Gorillas and thousands of other animals are on the verge of extinction.

endangered species conservation and forest conservation

The loss of iconic species is a tragedy with broad and deep impact. Animal, plant and marine biodiversity keeps ecosystems functional. Healthy ecosystems allow us to survive, get enough food to eat and make a living. When species disappear or fall in number, ecosystems and people—especially the world’s poorest—suffer.

Biodiversity is critical to ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity

Biodiversity is especially important to the poor—75% of whom live in rural areas and depend on nature for their food and livelihoods. The World Bank Group is committed to protecting biodiversity around the world. A leading financier of biodiversity conservation, the Bank has over US$ 1 billion actively invested in protecting nature and wildlife. The Bank is also the largest provider of development assistance to fight environment and natural resources crime, with US$ 300 million invested in forestry, fisheries and wildlife law enforcement.

Just how important is biodiversity to those who live in extreme poverty?

Take the case of Sierra Leone, where overfishing and pollution dramatically lowered the volume and diversity of fish stocks.  The Bank worked with communities to bring the marine ecosystem back to life by improving surveillance and prosecution of illegal fishing, and providing training on sustainable fishing practices. Nutrition and livelihoods have improved for local villagers as a result.  “Without the fish, it would be very, very bad,” says Addie, a young woman from Freetown, Sierra Leone. “For most, fish is the only protein available. Without the fish, we would get thin and weak—we would die.”

palm oil plantation deforestation

The World Bank works with governments and partners around the world to protect oceans, forests, mountains, pasturelands and other ecosystems that are important for people’s livelihoods. Bank support has helped protect 480,000 hectares of coastal zone in Guinea-Bissau for its resident marine life and an emerging tourism industry. By giving residents in Brazil’s Acre State resources to manage their forest resources sustainably, the Bank helped push deforestation rates down by 70% and raise real GDP by over 44%

The Bank engages communities in biodiversity conservation through incentives for nurturing the environment. In Kenya, a World Bank-supported project around Nairobi National Park paid 338 households to remove fences from their fields and allow wildlife to use an additional 22,000 hectares of adjacent land. Wildlife populations increased and families used income from this arrangement for school and medical fees, as well as livestock. The Bank also helped introduce participatory forest and pasture management in 251 communes covering 307,665 hectares in Albania. This led to sustainable management of community resources, reforestation of 1,634 hectares, and an 8% increase in incomes for participating communities.

deforestation and climate change

Investments in biodiversity can create jobs and raise incomes. The Bank’s US$ 5.5 million investment in South Africa’s Greater Addo Elephant National Park spurred millions in private sector investment, and created 614 jobs for people living in the surrounding areas. A project that supported conservation and sustainable management of forests and rural areas in Honduras increased community incomes by over 300% and created over 8,000 jobs.

Everything is connected. World Bank-supported reforestation in the hills of Rio, Brazil has been good for wildlife and people. “I’ve seen so many canaries, bluebirds, toucans and monkeys lately,” said community leader Nilza Roza. Healthy wildlife populations signal that the water table, which provides reliable water for the city, is working. Reforestation has also made communities safer from landslides, restored trees that absorb carbon dioxide and earned revenue-generating carbon credits for the city.

When we protect animals and plants, we also protect the ecosystems that underlie our economies and well-being.

Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/03/03/why-you-should-care-about-wildlife

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com