A partnership of global transport, logistics and conservation organisations has agreed a set of measures to tackle illegal wildlife trade.
Members of the United for Wildlife transport taskforce have signed up to 11 commitments designed combat the trade, estimated to to be worth $19 billion a year.
The measures include a commitment to share information, adopt practical measures to stop the transportation of illegal wildlife products, and a common determination to tackle the illegal trade, wherever it may be.
Global marine terminal operator DP World, one of the members that has signed up to the commitments, said that while ports played a vital role in enabling commerce to thrive, transport connectivity could also benefit traffickers of illegal wildlife products.
“That’s why we all need to work together to tackle the issue and only by partnership can we succeed for the long term. Promoting greater awareness and vigilance within the maritime sector, port operators, customs organisations, customers and suppliers and encouraging greater cooperation is key,” said DP World chairman, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. “We owe it to the world, our partners, our communities and to the magnificent wildlife that shares this planet with us.”
DP World said it would also write to customers, global port operators, and its workforce around the world to highlight the agreement and to underline the need for co-operation in the transport and logistics sector.
The taskforce is a collaboration involving the transport industry, international bodies and conservation organisations. It was convened by The Duke of Cambridge and is committed to increasing efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Other members of the task force include the International Air Transport Association, Emirates Airlines, Kenya Airways, Maersk, COSCO Container Lines, DHL and the World Customs Organisation.
Meanwhile, a partnership of economic and wildlife experts will carry out a study into China’s illegal trade in ivory to see how a ban might impact trade in the region, and poaching in Africa.
The Chinese government announced in May that it would phase out domestic trade in ivory. Science for Nature and People (SNAP), an environmental NGO, has created a new working group of experts to analyse the trade and how a ban could work to save the most elephants.
A complete ban would help stop the killing of 35,000 elephants annually, most poached in Eastern Africa, according to studies cited by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Around 70 per cent of ivory seized worldwide between 1989 and 2011 was destined for China, the WCS said.
The working group, which will include experts from the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, the Sun Yat-Sen University and Beijing Normal University, will spend two years assessing the potential impacts of the ban in China and Africa. It will model various forms of regulation and enforcement, and look at their impacts on the costs, benefits and risks for all those involved in the market.
One concern is that the introduction of a ban could boost illegal trade before it comes into effect. Market speculation about reduced supply could create perverse incentives and see poaching skyrocket.
“The ban on the ivory trade in China is a great step forward, but to enforce it means understanding economics, not only in China, but also in the hunting grounds of Africa,” said Craig Groves, executive director of SNAP.
“We have brought together leading experts in animal protection and economics, from China and internationally. Together they’ll build up the evidence on which the Chinese government can rely as it looks to gain control over this illegal trade.”
After the study, recommendations on the best way to implement the ban will be drawn up.