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UK joins US to lead world fight against wildlife crime

DEFRA News release  

2nd February 2006

Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight announced in India today that the UK Government is joining the US-led Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) and he urged India and China to do so in order to save rare species, such as tigers, from extinction.

The aims of the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking are very similar to the UK's very successful national initiative known as Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW), in which Government and civil society join together to fight wildlife crime.

PAW has brought together people and organisations with an interest in combating wildlife crime.  The PAW model has been commended and adopted by other countries.

The UK National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit - which has also been commended internationally - has had a key role in ensuring that the UK plays its part in assisting international wildlife law enforcement as well as supporting wildlife law enforcers in the UK.

Jim Knight welcomed the US move and said he was keen to explore ways in which the US initiative might complement international efforts by the UK Government.

“Stopping illegal trade in wildlife is not something that any government or nation can do alone.  It requires international co-operation and the support of non governmental organisations.  We fully share the US concerns - not only about the conservation implications of the illegal wildlife trade, but also the possible links with serious organised crime.

”I am particularly pleased that the Coalition has decided to focus initially on Asia and I welcome the contribution the US has already made to training and other capacity building activities.  I very much hope that India and China will also join the Coalition.”



Sustainable Development Summit and Dialogue
1. Jim Knight is in India for the Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development, an annual event hosted by the well-established Indian NGO, TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) as a major forum for governments, corporations, NGOs and academics to discuss sustainable development issues and challenges.  DEFRA sponsors the Summit every year and, this year, is providing £12,000 towards it.

2. This is the first ministerial visit to India to take forward the innovative UK-India Sustainable Development Dialogue since this was agreed in Oct 2005.  This is a long-term cooperative process aimed at strengthening and deepening relations and cooperation between the two countries.  One of the agreed priorities for the Dialogue is tackling wildlife crime.

Wildlife crime
3. The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) was launched in 1995.  PAW brings together all the voluntary and statutory bodies with an interest in wildlife law enforcement.  PAW's members include wildlife traders and keepers, and wildlife managers (such as game-keepers), as well as conservation and welfare organisations.  Its aim is working in partnership to reduce wildlife crime by raising awareness and promoting effective enforcement.  The PAW model has been commended by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

4. The UK National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit was set up in 2002 with £500,000 of Government support.  It, too, has been commended internationally.

5. The UK Government and WWF jointly sponsor an enforcement assistance officer at TRAFFIC International (DEFRA contributed £30,000 last year).

Tiger conservation
6. During his visit to India, Jim Knight will visit Ranthambore National Park to see for himself developments in addressing tiger conservation.

7. Over the last 6-7 years the UK has allocated almost £400, 000 to the tiger cause.

8. A £50,000 contribution from the UK in 1995 helped to get the Global Tiger Forum off the ground and has been used to support various capacity building projects in India and other states with tiger populations (e.g. Cambodia and Vietnam).  The UK was the first state with no tiger population to become a member of the Global Tiger Forum and contributes US$15,000 each year.

9. In 2003, the UK Government contributed a further £20,000 to the Global Tiger Forum with instructions that these funds were to be used specifically to support the establishment of a Wildlife Crime Cell.

10. Last year, the UK Government gave £10,000 to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to support the production of a training film for professional enforcement officers to help focus their efforts and resources to tackle poaching and in particular the trade in Tiger skins and the pelts of other Asian Big Cats.

11. Also last year, the UK Government contributed £15,000 to fund a meeting between China, India and Nepal, under the CITES Tiger Enforcement Task Force, to look at the illicit trade in the skins of Asian Big cats.

12. Since 2000, the UK has provided £40-50,000 each year to 21st Century Tiger and the Cat Specialist Group Online Cat Projects to fund tiger conservation.  21st Century Tiger is a partnership between the Zoological Society of London and Global Tiger Patrol.  All funds raised go directly to wild tiger projects and all projects are comprehensively vetted to ensure that they have sound practical conservation and scientific credibility and are making a fundamental contribution to the conservation of wild tigers.  The Cat Specialist Group Online Cat Projects is run by the World Conservation Union and Species Survival Commission