Getting the EU to fight wildlife crime

9th April 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Biodiversity ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • EU


Gavin Spowage

Wildlife crime is driving many endangered species to the brink of extinction.

The illegal ivory trade has resulted in 100,000 elephants being killed in the past two years. Wildlife crime has become a lucrative source of income, worth an estimated $20 billion a year.

It is now the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. The only way to take on the transnational gangs that operate this vile trade is to work closely across borders in Europe and beyond. That is why, in March, I launched the cross-party MEPs for wildlife group, which will aim to put the fight against wildlife crime at the top of the EU’s agenda. Led by one MEP from each of parliament’s seven political groups, it will build support across the political spectrum for an EU action plan to combat wildlife crime.

The EU currently plays a major role in the fight against wildlife crime, including funding anti-poaching efforts in developing countries and putting in place strict rules against the trafficking of endangered species. But it lacks a comprehensive strategy to deal with this growing threat. A comprehensive action plan would ensure that coordinated action is taken across all areas, from development aid to police cooperation. The EU could start by imposing tougher minimum penalties for criminals involved in the illegal trade in wildlife, set up a dedicated wildlife crime unit in Europol and increase funding for anti-poaching efforts in developing countries.

Momentum is now building as governments around the world wake up to the threat wildlife crime poses to global security. China has recently announced a ban on imports of ivory. Both the US and UK have made tackling wildlife crime a foreign policy priority. Yet the EU has still not accorded this pressing issue the importance it deserves. The MEPs for wildlife group will ensure an action plan against wildlife crime is developed and implemented across the EU.


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