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WCO renews support to fight illegal wildlife trade on World Elephant Day

11 août 2017

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is pleased to join the international community in celebrating the World Elephant Day (12 August 2017) under the theme “Bringing the world together to help save the elephants”. It provides an opportunity to underline WCO’s continued support to its Members in the fight against illegal wildlife trade and ivory smuggling in particular, which has become a daily occurrence that requires an effective coordination among Customs administrations and other border agencies.

Elephants are a keystone species, which means they create and maintain the ecosystems in which they live. Elephants also make it possible for other plant and animal species to live in those environments, but with the continuous slaughtering of elephants, major habitat imbalances will occur which weaken and eventually destroy the structure and diversity of nature itself.

Sadly, elephant numbers have dropped by 62% over the last decade, which means that only 400,000 elephants remain in the wild, where an estimated 80 to 100 elephants are killed daily mainly for their ivory. At this rate, some populations of elephants could be extinct from the wild by 2025.

The recent seizure by Customs in Hong Kong of a consignment of 7.2 tons of ivory is of great concern to the Customs community and the WCO is closely monitoring the situation concerning illegal wildlife trade across jurisdictions.

“The WCO Environment Programme and Project INAMA are currently coordinating Operation Save REP, which is a regional African counter-illicit wildlife trafficking operation that brings together the efforts of Customs Administrations from 10 sub-Saharan African countries, with the support of other law enforcement agencies”, emphasized the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya on this occasion. The smuggling of ivory is one of Operations Save REP’s key focus areas, where some good successes have already been reported.   

The WCO, as a signatory to the United for Wildlife Transportation Taskforce (UFW) Buckingham Palace Declaration, also continues to work closely with the UFW partners to identify possible weaknesses in the air-transport industry with regards to wildlife smuggling, and continuously identify means by which the sector can break these trade chains. These efforts will be stepped-up during the latter part for 2017 and 2018, where, amongst others, various joint ‘airport assessments’ will be conducted.

Link: http://www.royalfoundation.com/our-work/united-for-wildlife/