The Commission has launched a public consultation on how the EU can be more effective in combating wildlife trafficking. This comes in response to a recent global surge in poaching and illegal wildlife trade, which is now at unprecedented levels for some species. More than 1000 rhinoceroses were poached in South Africa in 2013, compared to 13 in 2007, for example, and rhino horn is now more valuable than gold. The EU is a major destination market and an important transit point for illegal wildlife products, with organized crime playing an increasing role.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “Wildlife trafficking takes a terrible toll on biodiversity and we need to find ways of taking more decisive action. This consultation is a first step towards what I hope will be a major change in our approach.”
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said. “Wildlife trafficking creates large profits for international organised crime groups. The Communication we adopt today sets out how all actors can work together to fight this crime more effectively.”
The EU has been active in the fight against illegal wildlife trade over the past decade, adopting strict trade rules for endangered species and providing large-scale support to anti-wildlife-trafficking efforts in developing countries. In Africa, the EU has committed more than EUR 500 million for biodiversity conservation over the past 30 years, with a portfolio of on-going projects worth approximately EUR 160 million.
Wildlife crime is highly lucrative, and prosecutions are rare. The growing demand for illegal products has devastating consequences for a number of species already under threat. The changing scale of the problem has raised questions about how the EU can be more effective in fighting against wildlife trafficking. The Commission is therefore seeking views on ten questions related to wildlife trafficking, including the adequacy of the current framework, tools that might strengthen existing efforts to fight the problem, how the EU in particular can help, improving our knowledge and data, and the possibility of stronger sanctions.
Comments can be submitted at http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ until 10 April 2014.