WCS works in 19 of 26 “Focus Countries” and all three “Countries of Concern”
Attention must turn to completing individual country assessments within the next four months
These issues will be discussed at CITES Standing Committee meeting this coming week
WASHINGTON (Nov. 26, 2017) – One year after the passage and signing into law of the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act, the U.S. State Department released its mandated report on the current state of wildlife trafficking around the world and lists focus countries and countries of concern.
Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, released the following statement:
“The END Wildlife Trafficking Act, signed into law in the United States in 2016, is the result of bipartisan cooperation on the critical issue of illegal wildlife trade. The release of the Focus Country Report, as mandated as part of that law, highlights the places where the U.S. will now focus resources to address the problem, and we applaud the combined efforts of the U.S. government, particularly the Departments of State, the Interior, and Commerce.
“The very survival of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other iconic species is threatened by wildlife trafficking. Poaching and trafficking operations are growing in scale and sophistication, with organized criminal networks profiting from this insidious crime. We need to address this crisis now, before it is too late.
“The gathering and publishing of information about how and where wildlife trafficking is occurring is the first step toward a whole of government approach to confronting the problem. Next, we look to the U.S. government to complete the required Country Assessments within the next four months, as outlined in the END Wildlife Trafficking Act. The Report also identifies three countries of concern, which are ‘actively engaged in or knowingly profited from the trafficking of endangered or threatened species,’ in recognition of corruption issues. Those countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lao PDR, and Madagascar.
“WCS works on the ground with government and other partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, including in 19 of the 26 focus countries and all three countries of concern. We take seriously the task of working with national governments to improve intelligence-based law enforcement to crack down on illegal trade networks and bring these criminals to justice.
“The release of the report falls just prior to the Standing Committee meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which will take place in Geneva from November 27 to December 1. At that meeting, Parties to the Convention will discuss trafficking in ivory, rhino horn, pangolin parts, African grey parrots, and other species, and will decide on compliance measures to ensure that countries, including those named in the Focus Country Report, take their obligations seriously to combat the illegal wildlife trade. WCS is sending a strong, experienced delegation to the Standing Committee.
“WCS is pleased that the END Wildlife Trafficking Act has begun moving the U.S. government toward an even more strategic focus on combatting wildlife trafficking. We look forward to more progress and stand ready to assist the U.S. and all our government partners in their efforts.”
The full report is available here: https://www.state.gov/e/oes/rls/rpts/275703.htm
The WCS policy statement on the CITES Standing Committee meeting is available here: https://www.wcs.org/our-work/solutions/international-policy (scroll to the bottom, under “Wildlife Trade and Trafficking”). WCS is sending a strong, experienced delegation to the Standing Committee, with experts available to comment from WCS headquarters, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Focus Countries – indicating a major source of wildlife trafficking products or their derivatives, a major transit point of wildlife trafficking products or their derivatives, or a major consumer of wildlife trafficking products
2017 Focus Countries (in alphabetical order)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
United Arab Emirates
Countries of Concern – indicating serious concerns that either high-level or systemic government involvement in wildlife trafficking has occurred.
2017 Countries of Concern (in alphabetical order)
Democratic Republic of Congo