London wildlife summit moves to choke off illegal markets

Feb 14, 2014 by Jacques Klopp
(L- R) Princes Harry, William and Charles sit alongside Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Lancaster House in London on February 13, 2014

More than 40 countries including China and African states have signed a declaration aimed at stamping out the illegal trade in wildlife, in a move broadly welcomed by conservation groups.

The London Declaration urges practical steps to end the in rhino horn, tiger parts and elephant tusks that contributes to criminal activity worth more than $19 billion (14 billion euros) each year.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who hosted Thursday's meeting, said: "I believe the measures we have agreed can mark a crucial turning point."

Hague highlighted the attendance of China and Vietnam, two major consumers of the banned products. Beijing sent Forestry Vice Minister Zhang Jianlong.

"I do welcome the involvement of China (and) the constructive approach from their minister and from other Asian countries, but there will be more work to do," Hague said.

He highlighted the progress that China had made in reducing the number of sharks killed to make , a traditional Chinese delicacy.

"The conference wants to follow this example in other areas," he said.

Conservation groups gave the declaration a largely positive reception, but said it did not go far enough.

Britain's Prince Charles (C), Prince William (R), and Prince Harry (L) arrive for the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Lancaster House in London on February 13, 2014

Mary Rice of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said: "This has been an unprecedented gathering, the first indication that many of the world's governments are really serious about combating organised wildlife crime.

"We would have liked them to go further and, specifically with regard to ivory and tigers, close down legal domestic markets."

Chad, Gabon, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Botswana announced a separate action plan to protect elephants of which 25,000 are killed each year by poachers, according to official estimates.

Botswana will organise a conference in 2015 to evaluate progress on the initiative.

Opening the meeting, British heir to the throne Prince Charles said that while it was important to tackle poachers, the key thing was to "attack demand" for rare creatures which are used to produce traditional medicines and other products.

Charles said the conference declaration would "address what is the most significant problem in my view—that of demand for and consumption of specific products from critically endangered wildlife."

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L), and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (R), talk during the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Lancaster House in London on February 13, 2014

"Most recently, demand from Asia—particularly China—has fuelled the trade, but we also know that the United States and Europe are contributing to it," he said.

While estimates of the value of the illegal trade in wildlife vary—London's Chatham House think-tank puts it at $10 billion—all the participants agree that poaching is accelerating at an alarming rate.

The conference heard that 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year compared with just 13 in 2007, and the number of tigers living wild in Asia has plunged from 100,000 to just 3,200 in the space of 10 years.

Martial arts film star Jackie Chan attended the conference to call for urgent action. He told AFP: "I don't want my grandchildren to look in a book and say 'what is that, rhino?'.

"We have already destroyed the earth enough."

Explore further: Britain's Charles and William urge end to illegal wildlife trade

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Threatened A-listers of the animal world

Feb 13, 2014

The 40 countries meeting here Thursday to seek a landmark declaration on the illegal trade of wildlife have said they are particularly concerned about the plight of elephants, rhinos and tigers, prized for ...

US bans commercial ivory trade

Feb 11, 2014

The United States banned the commercial trade of elephant ivory on Tuesday as part of a new drive to help African countries stem the rising threat to wildlife from poachers.

Recommended for you

Invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas

8 hours ago

( —When Antonio DiTommaso, a Cornell weed ecologist, first spotted pale swallow-wort in 2001, he was puzzled by it. Soon he noticed many Cornell old-field edges were overrun with the weedy vines. ...

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

23 hours ago

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

Apr 23, 2014

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

Apr 23, 2014

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...