Prince William warns poachers are outrunning efforts to stop wildlife trade

Animals are still being killed in horrifying numbers despite global efforts to stop the poaching crisis, says prince at Hanoi summit
Adam Vaughan The Guardian 17 Nov 16;

Poachers killing Africa’s rhinos and elephants are still one step ahead of efforts to stop the multibillion wildlife trade, Prince William has warned.

Traffickers have become more sophisticated and increasingly brutal, and animals are dying in “horrifying numbers”, the Duke of Cambridge told an international wildlife summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday.

The prince’s speech came as the UK pledged an extra £13m to tackle the problem and environment secretary, Andrea Leadsom, promised the UK would show leadership to protect precious wildlife. The UK hosted the first of the wildlife summits in 2014, where 46 countries agreed an accord to combat the trade.

But the prince said that, despite that global deal and ensuing efforts, the poaching crisis has continued.

“There is much to be proud of and I want to make sure we take confidence from what has been achieved. We are on the right side of history. But here is the problem: we know that we aren’t moving fast enough to keep up with the crisis. Rhinos, elephants, pangolin, lions – they are all still being killed in horrifying numbers,” he said.

“So while we’ve made progress, the truth is we are still falling behind. A betting man would still bet on extinction.”

He said that since the London declaration two years ago, poachers’ methods in the “killing fields of Africa and Asia” had become more sophisticated, and they were killing more rangers.

But putting an end to the trade was possible and there was widespread international acknowledgement that the killing needed to stop, he said. “It is only a test of will.

“And compared to other global problems, I really do believe it is relatively straightforward to solve.”

Officials and ministers from 42 countries agreed a joint declaration to follow through on the commitments they made in London, which include tougher enforcement and cracking down on corruption.

Teresa Telecky, director of the wildlife department for the Human Society International, said: “The statement demonstrates high-level government commitment to stamping out poaching and illegal wildlife trade.”

Uganda announced it would destroy its 15-tonne stockpile of seized ivory next year, following high-profile ivory destructions such as Kenya’s burn earlier this year.

The UK said it was committing an extra £13m for measures tackling the crisis, doubling the UK’s funding against the trade. “The UK is determined to do all we can to show global leadership in fighting the illegal wildlife trade and protecting the world’s precious wildlife,” said Leadsom.

Ministers in September announced a UK ban on ivory younger than 70 years old, but were criticised by conservationists for stopping shy of a total ban.

Over 100 tigers killed and trafficked each year: Report
Channel NewsAsia 16 Nov 16;

HANOI: With fewer than 4,000 left in the wild, tigers are on a precipice - yet more than 100 of the big cats are still killed and illegally trafficked each year, according to fresh analysis published on Wednesday (Nov 16).

The latest estimate comes as experts and dignitaries, including Britain's Prince William, gather in Vietnam's capital for an international wildlife conference which kicks off on Thursday.

The two-day meet joins governments, NGOs and activists to combat illegal wildlife trade and is being hosted in a country that has become a nexus for smuggling and consumption.

Traffic, which campaigns to protect endangered animals and help governments catch those who trade in their parts, published a new analysis looking at 16-years of tiger seizure data from across the globe.

They estimate an average of 110 tigers became victims of the trade each year since 2000.

The study also illustrates the growing role breeding centres play in fuelling the trade, especially in Southeast Asia.

Researchers singled out Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as among the world's top countries for tiger farms.

"These countries have clearly made little meaningful progress in controlling this source of supply," Kanitha Krishnasamy, a co-author of Traffic's report said in a statement. "Any further stimulation of demand could have a more disastrous impact on wild tigers."

Around 30 per cent of tiger parts seized between 2012 and 2015 now come from captive tigers compared to just two percent between 2000 and 2003.

Animal rights groups argue that by keeping demand for tiger parts going, farms simultaneously perpetuate the destruction of tigers in the wild.

Laos recently announced plans to close its tiger farms while Thailand has initiated investigations after a long tussle with a controversial Buddhist "tiger temple" that for years had been at the centre of allegations of complicity in the trade.

But both countries have a long history of corruption and policing crackdowns that rarely result in permanent successes on the ground.

Animal rights groups hope the Hanoi conference will pile pressure on governments to redouble efforts to stem the trade and close down farms.

"Ending tiger farming would ease the pressure and help law enforcement agencies focus on the poachers and traffickers of wild tigers," Michael Baltzer, from the World Wildlife Fund said.

Prince William, who has become a champion of endangered species in recent years, met with Vietnam's prime minister and vice president on Wednesday.

- AFP/ec

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