Obama to Tackle Africa’s Wildlife Trafficking Crisis

President Obama's new initiative to combat wildlife trafficking will kick off in Tanzania. Photo by John Storr via Wikimedia Commons
President Obama’s new initiative to combat wildlife trafficking will kick off in Tanzania. Photo by John Storr via Wikimedia Commons

President Obama is launching a new initiative to combat Africa’s illegal wildlife trade crisis, which will include $10 million “specifically earmarked” for addressing the issue.

According to The Washington Post, “Obama will convene a Cabinet-level task force composed of the State, Interior and Justice departments that will be charged with devising a national strategy to curb the illegal trade of wildlife across the globe.” The initiative will kick off in Tanzania.

WWF welcomed the news, calling it “groundbreaking” and posting the following statement from President Obama:

Poaching and trafficking is threatening Africa’s wildlife. Today I issued a new Executive Order to better organize U.S. government efforts in this fight so that we can cooperate with the Tanzanian government and others. This includes an additional millions of dollars to help countries across the regions to build their capacity to meet this challenge.

The Executive Order includes:

  • A $10 million pledge to improve protection for threatened wildlife populations in key African countries.
  • A Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking to develop a national strategy within six months to fight wildlife crime, which will receive recommendations from an Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking of independent experts.
  • A review of the federal government’s Transnational Organized Crime Strategy to consider adding wildlife trafficking to the list of crimes it covers, elevating it to the same level as arms, drug and human trafficking.

The entire world has a stake in making sure we preserve Africa’s beauty for future generations.

Demand for wildlife parts comes mainly from Asia, with China’s appetite wiping out elephants, pangolins, and other threatened African species. Meanwhile, Vietnam is a major destination for rhino horns sourced in Africa.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that the issue of demand reduction had been brought up by the President in meetings with China.

I know its come up at the president and the Secretary of State level with the Chinese. A lot of these syndicates are based in China.

Grant Harris, the senior director for Africa for the National Security Council, noted that the issue of wildlife trafficking figured prominently in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s policy.

And even before his appointment as current Secretary of State, John Kerry elevated the wildlife trafficking crisis to a high level. On May 24th, 2012, he presided over the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing, which examined the connection between global insecurity and a surging ivory and rhino horn trade.

Under President Obama’s timely initiative, the US seems poised for an active role in fighting the global wildlife trafficking crisis.


Comments

comments

Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.