Find and prosecute the criminals driving the trade in endangered species

  • by: Caroline Mason
  • recipient: David Higgins, Head of Environmental Crime Programme, INTERPOL, Ben Janse van Rensburg, Chief Enforcement Support, CITES, Richard Thomas, Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC International, Mou Xinsheng Minister of the Administration of Customs, People

With the ever increasing slaughter of elephants and rhino and many other species and the heightened awareness surrounding this shocking situation, we are now beginning to see an increase in seizures of illegal shipments of endangered wildlife in many parts of the world. And we are also seeing poachers being caught and prosecuted. But:-

Have you ever wondered why we are not seeing those driving this trade brought to justice?

Have you ever wondered where these seized shipments were destined?

Have you ever thought that there must be on-forwarding details on the shipping documents?

Why aren't these shipments tracked to their final destinations?

It appears, from a recent newspaper article, that the confiscating authority (at one port anyway, but probably many) don't bother! Why? Why aren't those at the other end of this chain, those driving this destruction, being brought to justice?

Is it a case of 'finders, keepers'? And is it a case of these criminals being 'untouchable'?

This gaping hole in enforcement must be filled if we are to stop the decimation of Africa's (and the world's) wildlife and natural resources. Poachers on the ground are, regrettably, expendable and easily replaced. The criminals driving this illegal trade are the ones that need to be behind bars. And the authorities in many countries know who these people are. We call upon Interpol, Traffic and the Chief of Customs in both China and Hong Kong to rectify this deliberate lack of follow-through investigation immediately.

Making high profile and well publicised seizures at ports is good publicity, possibly intended to dupe the world into thinking that this revolting and illegal trade is being dealt with. But look behind those headlines and those seizures and one sees no progress at all!

Thank you.

Caroline Mason
Wild & Free South Africa/RHINO S.O.S.

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