LIMA, Peru (September 18, 2017)—The Government of Peru has taken a major step in conserving wildlife species with a new decade-long plan to combat wildlife trafficking in one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.

On September 14, the Peruvian National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR) presented the 10-year National Strategy to Reduce Wildlife Trafficking in Peru, recently approved by Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski through a Supreme Decree. SERFOR worked with WCS and more than 20 other public and non-profit organizations, with the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to develop and finalize the strategy.

Wildlife trafficking represents a serious issue in Peru, both from a legal and a conservation perspective. More than 318 different species were confiscated between 2000 and 2015 according to SERFOR records. Of the species confiscated, 58 percent were birds such as parrots and parakeets, 27 percent were mammals such as squirrel monkeys, 13 percent were reptiles such as river turtles and tortoises, and 2 percent were amphibians such as the rare Titicaca and Junin frogs.

Of the 318 species, 151 are listed on the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These animals and animal parts such as meat, skins, bones, feathers, and shells are for local and international markets, with the main destinations including Asia, Europe, and North America, although Peru is by far the largest market.

The 10-year strategy aims to reduce illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in Peru by: disseminating information to educate and raise awareness on the issue; creating the conditions for stricter law enforcement and effective control of the illegal wildlife trade; strengthening multisector alliances; and collaborating with border countries and transit or destination countries for illegal products originating in Peru.

“The strategy elevates the discourse around wildlife trafficking to the national level, commits governmental institutions to joint actions, and recognizes the issue as a serious crime,” said Mariana Montoya, WCS Peru Country Director. “It includes a range of actions that span from prevention through communications and education efforts, to strengthening the capacity of relevant authorities to dismantle wildlife trafficking networks throughout the continent.”

For Yovana Murillo, WCS Peru’s Trafficking and Wildlife Health Coordinator, the approval of this strategy is “an important first step, and we must now focus on implementing the 35 specific actions articulated in the strategy.”

WCS Peru has been working for more than five years to fight wildlife trafficking in Peru.  The program has worked to generate and disseminate key information about wildlife species vulnerable to trafficking, as well as associated risks to human health due to contact with the wild animals. WCS Peru also works with authorities that control and enforce wildlife crimes, and helps to facilitate collaborations between government, private and civil society entities.

Most recently, WCS used more than 10 years of government data, along with new research and surveys among Peruvians, to develop a social media campaign to raise awareness about the issue of wildlife trafficking in the country. Surveys demonstrated that a majority of Peruvians were not familiar with laws restricting the wildlife trade, so WCS worked with SERFOR to design a pilot campaign in November-December 2016. The campaign’s messages informed Peruvians on the topic, reaching over 250,000 people.

WCS will continue to support SERFOR’s efforts, and under their leadership support the effective implementation of the strategy. WCS will also continue to conduct field research and gather information to ensure that the most up-to-date data informs actions to combat crime and contextualize the issue of wildlife trafficking in Peru.