UK Government Directs £4.6 Million to Tackling Illegal Wildlife Trade

The UK government has announced it will provide £4.6 million in funding for projects tackling illegal wildlife trade around the world. They include efforts to stop smuggling in Madagascar, to disrupt the grey parrot trade in Cameroon and to reduce demand for marine turtle products in Nicaragua.

The global trade in illegal wildlife products is estimated to be worth between 7 and 23 billion US dollars a year. It is responsible for putting species such as pangolins, rhinos, and tigers in danger of extinction.

The UK has pledged to spend £36 million to fight illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2021. The new projects are among a series of actions to emerge from a major conference held in London last October.

The government is also drawing on expertise in behavior change science to recommend the most effective approaches to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products, such as environmental education and social marketing.

Another initiative, the Wildlands Tech Hub, has brought together conservationists and engineers to develop new technological tools to combat wildlife crime, with support from Google and Arm.

“It’s hugely encouraging to see efforts underway to address key drivers of illegal wildlife trade, in particular, to tackle illicit financial flows,” says Richard Thomas of Traffic, an NGO focusing on global wildlife trade.

Two issues that require more attention are corruption – a key facilitator of wildlife crime – and cybercrime, Thomas says. “The latter is a rising threat, in part because of successful efforts in shutting down physical market places, which has led to more transactions going online where they are more difficult to regulate.”

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