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William Hague: fighting illegal wildlife trade is ‘great moral cause’



Efforts to crack down on illegal trades that see some of the planet’s most vulnerable species slaughtered are to be stepped up ahead of a London summit.

UK foreign secretary William Hague said that fighting the corner of the endangered species is a “great moral cause”, ahead of a conference that will discuss enforcement and how to decrease demand of illegal artefacts, such as ivory from elephant and rhino species.

The White House’s head of Africa policy also said that there had been “an explosion of illicit trade and wildlife trafficking in recent years”, adding that the US would be implementing tough measures to combat the trade.

Data from the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests that in Africa, 96 elephants are slaughtered every day for their precious ivory. It estimates that in 2012 alone, some 35,000 elephants were killed. The population of African elephants has decreased from millions to fewer than 500,000.

Speaking to BBC radio 5 live, Hague added, “It matters to many human beings, including me, that these endangered species are protected, are saved, for the world”.

He added, “This conference is very important, and I hope it will be a turning point. But if it’s a turning point, there’s still going to be a lot more work needed after it”.

Hague said that efforts would need to be led by African countries themselves, adding that the west would not be telling them what to do.

“They do need western countries, because western countries are the best at raising finance and we have very active NGOs [non-governmental organisations], we have private individuals who will put money into it, and we have a lot of expertise in conservation.

Dr John Robinson, chief conservation officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society warned that failure to secure action at the summit could mean that “the African forest elephant will blink out in our lifetimes.”

Further reading:

Conservationists meet in London to address global wildlife trafficking ‘crisis’

Licence to hunt endangered black rhino sold for $350,000 in the US

Rhino poaching: illegal killings on the rise

2013 set to be record year for illegal rhino deaths in South Africa

David Beckham joins forces with Prince William