Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has called for an EU Action Plan to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade in a joint campaign with the Sunday Mirror.
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed in order to supply the global ivory trade. Rhinos, lions, tigers and dozens of other species are all being pushed to the brink of extinction by poaching and a rising demand for illegal wildlife products.
Catherine Bearder has written a letter to the European Commission, co-signed by 81 MEPs, calling for the EU to put in place an Action Plan and end illegal poaching before it's too late.
The three main demands for the new EU Action Plan are:
A permanent fund to boost efforts to take on poachers; a new Wildlife Crime Unit in the EU's crime-fighting agency Europol and tougher penalties across Europe for wildlife criminals.
Catherine Bearder commented:
"The unprecedented scale of illegal poaching is driving many species to the brink of extinction.
"Unless we take action now, our grandchildren will only be able to see wild animals such as elephants, lions and rhinos in their history books.
"The EU must lead the world in responding to this global tragedy before it is too late."
Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation, added:
"The EU has always played a key role protecting our natural world.
"Proposals to develop an EU Action Plan against illegal wildlife trafficking come at a critical time, at the moment when the activities of one species - our own - are having such devastating effects on the survival prospects of so many others.
"I am sure that the great majority of EU citizens will welcome increased efforts to halt and reverse recent declines in wildlife species through support for effective conservation measures, the application of wildlife law enforcement and the preservation of the natural heritage we all share."
Catherine's letter to Vella is available here.