I chair the cross-party group MEPs For Wildlife which helped deliver an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking. Which is why I was delighted this month to be part of the official European Parliament delegation to a major wildlife conference in South Africa.
The conference of the parties to the CITES convention COP17 in Johannesburg brings together decision-makers from across the world to discuss and tackle wildlife crime. Here, I met with the UK government to discuss their proposal to ban the illegal ivory trade. I also visited the all women Black Mamba anti-poaching unit in Kruger National Park and went out on patrol looking for snares with them. A truly inspirational group of women!
In the past decade alone, we have seen a 110,000 drop in African elephant populations due the massive global demand for their ivory tusks. But it is not just elephants being killed; big cats, tropical fish, flowers and many more species are being taken from the wild and sold all across the world’s markets by organised criminal groups. These groups are exploiting wildlife for massive profits at a very low risk of arrest.
Countries must work together to tackle wildlife trafficking and make difficult choices to try to end the illegal ivory trade. It will be a tragedy if some of our most iconic species are not around for future generations to enjoy.