Cash to combat illegal poaching and trade of wildlife in developing countries


Rob Merrick, The Independent

Date Published

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Developing countries will receive cash to combat poaching and the illegal trade of marine turtles and grey parrots from a government fund. 

A total of £4.6m will be handed out to 14 schemes, which aim to build on momentum from last year’s London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

The projects include drives to reduce demand for marine turtle products in Nicaragua and to disrupt the trade in grey parrots in Cameroon.

Work to crack wildlife smuggling in Madagascar and to strength anti-poaching techniques and wildlife trafficking in Uganda will also benefit.

And a £40,000 project will deliver online packs to children across the world to teach them about the dangers of fuelling the trade, said an announcement to coincide with “Earth Day” on 22 April. 

“The illegal wildlife trade is an international tragedy,” said Thérèse Coffey, the environment minister.

“These serious organised criminal networks do more than just damage wildlife – corruption and illegal activities undermine sustainable development and the rule of law, bringing misery to local communities.

“The illegal wildlife trade challenge fund is backing projects that will tackle the criminals at source and in countries that are destinations for items made from illegally traded plants and animals.”

Government officials believe progress has been made in the six months since the Duke of Cambridge and world leaders gathered in London for the biggest IWT conference in history.

The British Embassy in Bangkok has run a campaign called “Elephants are like us”, promoting work to close ivory markets and reduce pressure on elephant populations.  

The WILDLABS Tech Hub was formed at the London conference to harness the power of technology, data-sharing and machine-learning to combat wildlife crime.

More than 1,000 delegates attended the October conference, hearing warnings that Africa’s progress in protecting its wildlife will falter if local populations fail to see rewards from conservation.

Members of the Giants Club, an international conservation initiative to protect large animals led by the heads of the four African states, warned the battle would be lost without greater cooperative action.

Environmental crime is the fifth most lucrative serious organised crime and is thought to be worth up to £17bn a year.

But the illegal wildlife trade not only threatens some of the world’s most iconic species with extinction, it also damages economic growth and the livelihoods of vulnerable rural people.

The government pledged £6m of aid last year, with further rounds for funding applications to be opened shortly.