Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has renewed his call for measures to tackle the illegal wildlife trade which endangers animal species such as elephants and tigers.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on the Government’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and the illegal wildlife trade last month (February 28), Mr Herbert called for a concerted effort to tackle the demand for ivory products, saying: “It is vital that we choke off demand for ivory.
“In the end, as with all crime, if we do not tackle demand, but only focus on enforcement, we will not be successful. It is just as important that we address the demand for ivory, as well as the vital enforcement measures.”
The illegal wildlife trade is worth over £15 billion a year – the fourth most lucrative illicit trade in the world after drugs, weapons and human trafficking.
Wild elephants continue to be hunted for their ivory, with more than 100,000 elephants killed by poachers between 2010 and 2012.
Mr Herbert is a Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Endangered Species and a longstanding supporter of a ban on the sale of ivory.
Prior to the debate, Mr Herbert attended an event hosted by the International Fund of Animal Welfare (IFAW) in the House of Commons, where he was given a demonstration of an innovative new method of detecting fingerprints on elephant tusks developed by the Metropolitan Police, King’s College and IFAW, a new tool in the battle to tackle poaching and the illegal trade in ivory.
Responding to the debate on behalf of the Government, Dr Therese Coffey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “The UK has shown global leadership in tackling the illegal wildlife trade.
“We hosted the first, ground-breaking London conference in 2014, which secured ambitious agreements from more than 40 Governments to take urgent, co-ordinated action and was hailed as a turning point in global efforts to tackle these damaging activities. We also played a leading role in the subsequent conferences in Botswana and Vietnam.”
The Minister said that the Government was “investing £26 million in practical action around the world to reduce demand, strengthen enforcement, ensure effective legal frameworks and develop sustainable livelihoods for affected communities.
“We are providing funding to Interpol to expand its work on tracking and intercepting illegal shipments of ivory, rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products.”
The Government has also consulted on proposals to introduce a total ban on UK sales of ivory, with narrowly defined and carefully targeted exemptions. The ban is widely expected to go ahead after the consultation showed overwhelming support for it, with a formal Government response expected shortly.