The UN Speaks Out Against Rhino and Elephant Poaching
A United Nations Conference in Vienna on Tuesday addressed the crisis the world is facing with illegal wildlife trade. Combined with illegal forestry products, wildlife crimes such as rhino and elephant poaching have become the fourth largest border crossing crimes in the world. Only drugs, weapons and human trafficking are more prevalent.
Estimates from WWF and the UNODC project that anywhere from 17 to 19.5 billion dollars a year come from this illegal activity. Rhino and elephant poaching for their horns and tusks has reached epic proportions as demand in Asia grows. In many Asian countries it is believed that the horns and tusks contain medicinal properties and can even cure cancer. Even though this could not be further from the truth, and massive educational campaigns have been launched to raise awareness, the demand continues to grow. South Africa alone is on pace to lose over 800 rhinos this year if the current trend continues.
At the conference, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov spoke about this global problem calling for members of the UN to impose harsher penalties for those that would commit these crimes. He also pointed out that these criminals should be punished in both the exporting country and the importing one, just as they would be for drugs.
“Wildlife and forest crimes must be treated as serious crimes with minimum punishments of four years or more so that full force of deterrence can be used against criminals,” -Yury Fedotov
Is there anything you can do? Yes. You can start by learning more about the WWF initiative to stop illegal wildlife trade HERE . You can also use the power of social media by taking snapshots of the animals they are trying to protect and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter HERE