Serious About Wildlife Crime| World Wildlife Day
World Wildlife Day – observed annually, with this year’s theme ‘It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime’ – was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2013 for 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The topic of #Seriousaboutwildlifecrime has reached 44 million users across the internet, including 1 million Chinese social media users over the week of 3 March- 8 March. The campaign involved printing and taking selfies with the #SeriousAboutWildlifeCrime action poster http://j.mp/1yMHNES .The photos where then shared on various social media platforms having a reach of 10 million users.
Illegal wildlife trade undermines rule of law, degrades ecosystems and severely hampers the efforts of rural communities striving to sustainably manage their natural resources, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the United Nations marked World Wildlife Day.
“Combating this crime is not only essential for conservation efforts and sustainable development; it will contribute to achieving peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fuelled by these illegal activities,” said Mr. Ban in a message on the Day.
“Getting serious about wildlife crime means enrolling the support of all sections of society involved in the production and consumption of wildlife products, which are widely used as medicines, food, building materials, furniture, cosmetics, clothing and accessories,” the Secretary-General added.The illicit trafficking in live great apes is an increasingly serious threat to chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos in Africa and orangutans in Asia, with seizures averaging 1.3 per week since 2014. It is estimated that a minimum of 220 chimpanzees, 106 orangutans, 33 bonobos, and 15 gorillas have been lost from the wild over the last 14 months, according to the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP). To commemorate World Wildlife Day 2015 and honor their commitments to protecting wildlife and stopping wildlife crimes, the Permanent Missions of Gabon, Germany and Thailand to the United Nations, in collaboration with CITES, UNDP, UNEP, GRASP, UNODC, the World Bank (WB), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) gathered at the WCS Central Park Zoo on 3 March for a high-level panel discussion on the issue.
The discussion highlighted the importance of international coordination aimed at both the supply and demand sides of illegal poaching and trade. Panelists reviewed strategies to combat illegal wildlife trade, such as curbing international demand, improving intelligence and border control, strengthening regional law enforcement and prosecution capabilities, and facilitating community-based natural resource management approaches that give local communities greater voice and control in protecting resources.
The participants also discussed the importance of raising public awareness to reduce demand, including the World Wildlife Day global social media campaign, which reach over 15 million followers around this year’s theme: “It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime.” As Sue Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy at WCS, said, “We know what to do; now we have to do it!”
The WCS Central Park Zoo event was attended by over 100 representatives from Member States, development organizations, civil society, the private sector, and media. The event included high-level speaker remarks and a moderated, interview-style panel and interactive dialogue. Welcoming remarks were provided by Nik Sekhran, Director of the Sustainable Development Cluster at UN Development Programme and Cristián Samper, President and CEO of WCS. Joint remarks were offered by Ambassador Marianne Bibalou, Chargée d’Affaires of Gabon, Ambassador Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany, and Ambassador Chayapan Bamrungphong, Chargé d’Affaires of Thailand. Opening remarks were also shared by John Scanlon, Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), and Oyun Sanjaasuren, President of the UN Environment Assembly.
Moderated by Dan Harris, Nightline Anchor at ABC News, a panel discussion explored the “Links between Illegal Wildlife Trade, Crime, and Sustainable Development” and included Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director at UN Office of Drugs and Crime, Nik Sekhran, Director of the Sustainable Development Cluster at UN Development Programme, Doug Cress, Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) Programme Coordinator at UN Environment Programme, Sue Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy at WCS, and Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at US State Department.
Opening segment: H.E. Mr. Sam K. Kutesa, President of the General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Keynote speakers: H.E. Ms. Oyun Sanjaasuren, UNEA President and Member of the Parliament (Great National Khural) of Mongolia (video-message); Mr. John Scanlon, Secretary-General, CITES; Ms. Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation; Ms. Nadya Hutagalung, Ambassador for the UN Great Apes Survival Partnership; Ms. Josephine Ekiru, Cultural Conservation Ambassador from Turkana, northern Kenya – Civil society Equator Prize winner on Wildlife Conservation