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Declaration Against Wildlife Trade Signed

Government officials from around the world have signed a declaration at the London Conference on The Illegal Wildlife Trade on Thursday, vowing to take action against the heinous activities that are wiping out some of the most amazing, but declining, animals on our planet.

Representatives from 46 countries and 11 UN organisations, including Princes Charles, William and Harry, met at the largest ever conference on wildlife trading at Lancaster House in central London. On the final day of the meeting, delegates signed the London Declaration, which outlines what the countries’ governments need to do to put a stop to animal poaching.

All governments involved in the conference agreed that wildlife trading needs to be treated in the same way as other forms of international organised crime, categorising it in the same way as the trafficking of drugs, guns and people, which holds a four year minimum jail sentence.

By signing the London Declaration, the governments agree to investigate wildlife trading in their country and strengthen their laws to try and make it more difficult for poachers to export their ‘goods’.

“The illegal wildlife trade is a global problem, and it matters deeply to all of us gathered here today,” explained UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. “We need to show the world our political commitment at the highest level across the globe, addressing this before it is too late.”

Trading in illegal animal products, such as elephant tusks, rhino horns and tiger bones, is worth more than £11 billion a year, with so many of these animals being poached that they are on the brink of extinction. Rhino poaching alone increased 5000% between 2007 and 2012 because of demand from some Asian countries that use the animal materials as part of traditional medicines, or simply rich people buying them just to have them.

Ivory trading has actually been banned since 1989 by CITES, which is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, but some countries were granted a one-off permission to sell some of their stock in the past. Now, the leaders of Botswana, Chad, Gabon and Tanzania have all agreed to ban ivory trading for at least 10 years. By agreeing to this, these countries also cannot ask CITES if they can sell any of their illegal animal product stockpiles in that time period.

Conservation groups around the world have obviously greatly welcomed the news of the London Declaration, and feel that although steps need to be put into place quickly, a united message is being put out across the globe that poaching and wildlife trading will not be tolerated.

“Governments signing the London Declaration today sent a strong message: Wildlife crime is a serious crime and it must be stopped,” explained WWF-UK Chief Species Adviser Heather Sohl. She explained that the wildlife trading industry not only takes the lives of tens of thousands of animals, but also rangers out to stop poachers.

“[The London Declaration] will show the criminals that there are no weak links,” said William Hague at the conference, “and that they will suffer serious consequences if they continue their crimes.”

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