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We need to take £10 billion wildlife crime seriously

The issue of wildlife crime was put under the spotlight in the European parliament today.

key_elephant.jpgMEPs were given the opportunity to pose their questions to the European Commission who is responsible for the EU's efforts to end the practice of wildlife crime through working with partners around the world.

Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East, Catherine Bearder, welcomed the discussions and has described how important the fight against wildlife crime is.

These talks took place at the same time as it was revealed that groups linked to suspected terrorist, Samantha Lewthwaite, also known as the "White Widow" have been earning up to 40% of their funding for terrorism operations from the illegal wildlife trade.

Profits made from elephant and rhino horn are being used to buy weapons that have been subsequently used to commit atrocities such as the Westgate shopping mall shootings in Kenya last year.

Ms Bearder has been a longstanding campaigner on the issue of wildlife crime and last year backed an action plan aimed at curbing wildlife crime.

Commenting after the talks in Strasbourg, she said:

"It is very concerning that the devastating consequences of wildlife crime still remains largely unreported. There is a clear link between terrorism and the poaching of endangered animals and this simply must stop.

"This is a huge criminal industry that is larger than the illicit trafficking of small arms, diamonds, gold and oil.

"I will be continuing to press the EU to step up its efforts to help support nations affected by these crimes that not only present a danger to local wildlife but to the safety of all of us."

You can read the report by US think tank the Stimson Centre here.

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