World Wildlife Day: the future of wildlife is in our hands

03 March 2016

Brussels, 3 March 2016

The 3rd of March is wildlife’s special day on the United Nations calendar, a day when society is called upon to step-up deterrence of wildlife crime. The 2016 theme is “The future of wildlife is in our hands”, with African and Asian elephants being the main focus of the global communication campaign.

The world has been confronted by illegal wildlife trade for decades, but the scale and scope of this scourge have worsened in recent years. Increased involvement of organized criminal groups, and on some occasions, rebel militia, have changed the global landscape and its dynamics, therefore making efforts to preserve and counteract this illicit activity more difficult.

On the occasion of the World Wildlife Day, the WCO encourages implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and relevant national legislation in order to better deter the illegal trade in wildlife.

“Marking this day gives the WCO the opportunity to underscore the key role played by Customs in combating cross-border wildlife crime, and to recall the need to strengthen collaboration and information sharing between the source, transit and destination countries, and through the entire global supply chain to ensure a more efficient and coordinated law enforcement response,” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.

At the international level, the WCO has continued to enhance cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations, that share its commitment to protecting the planet and its wildlife.

Wildlife crime is on the agenda of the WCO Enforcement Committee which is being held this week in Brussels, with discussions focusing on the WCO project INAMA which aims to strengthen the enforcement capacity of Customs administrations in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) activities and strategies. This alliance, consisting of the WCO, the CITES Secretariat, the World Bank, INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has produced substantial concrete results, including deployment of trainings and development of technical materials, as well as global advocacy and an awareness raising campaign. In this vein, the video developed by the ICCWC on the occasion of the World Wildlife Day was presented to Enforcement Committee delegates.