Published on February 19, 2014 | by Jessica Murray


World leaders gather to tackle illegal wildlife trade

Close up of a Tiger

The agreed actions include plans for deterrents and legal frameworks to be put in place [Flickr: batterjob32]

World leaders have been meeting in London to discuss new plans to diminish the illegal wildlife trade.

Hosted by David Cameron, 46 governments from across the globe were called together at Lancaster House and have vowed to strengthen law enforcement on the illegal trade, focusing primarily on elephants, rhinos and tigers.

The outcome of the two-day long summit was a declaration signed by all delegates at the conference, agreeing to implement all actions to eradicate the market for illegal wildlife products – a trade which is worth over £6 billion a year.

The agreed actions include plans for deterrents and legal frameworks to be put in place, and a programme of supporting sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade.

This will be done through positive engagement with those local communities, as well as a detailed plan for tackling wildlife trafficking.


Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry, who publicly oppose the illegal trade, also backed the discussion.

In a Youtube video posted just a few days before the summit, Prince Charles and Prince William voiced their concerns of the illegal wildlife trade and urged the public to support campaigns to tackle it.

According to Princes Charles: “Humanity is less than humanity without the rest of creation. The destruction of these endangered species will diminish us all.”

SUARTS president Shelly Asquith, who has previously been involved in animal rights activism, told Arts London News: “It sounds promising that world leaders are coordinating policy and commitments to crack down on the trade of animal products, particularly endangered species, usually murdered in the most horrific ways. Lets hope these words are followed by action.”


Elephant in a wildlife park

The illegal trade of ivory is one of the biggest forms of harm to the natural world [Flickr: Werner Vermaak]

Worldwide illegal ivory trade activity has more than doubled since 2007, with ivory selling for up to £1,200 per kilo and 100 elephants being killed every day.

Rhino poaching has also increased by 5,000 per cent since 2007, with one rhino killed by a poacher every ten hours.

Rhino horn is now worth more than gold and platinum, selling at around £40,000 per kg, and is more valuable on the black market than diamonds or cocaine.

LCF MA Fashion Photography student Jackie Puwalski, 25, incorporates her strong views on impact, sustainability and connectivity into her photography work.

She told ALN: “I think that our perception of nature has become incredibly unbalanced. The cause is multifaceted, but the outcome is that animals are increasingly viewed as an unlimited resource for human consumption, and the illegal wildlife trade is a pervasive example. We really need to be more aware and active about the issues threatening wildlife and the environment.”

She also believes that students have some of the biggest potential to affect change and inspire action in others: “Through my own work, I want to bring to light the connectivity we have with the natural world and reflect what might transpire should we continue to be indifferent.”


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