The United States has strengthened its commitment to crack down on wildlife trafficking with the House passage of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494), legislation authored by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Under the new legislation, wildlife trafficking will be placed on par with other organized crime — such as trafficking of weapons and drugs — making it a liable offense for money laundering and racketeering.
The Global Anti-Poaching Act will hold foreign governments accountable by: 1) requiring the Secretary of State to identify the countries determined to be a major source, transit point, or consumer of wildlife trafficking products; and 2) authorizing the Secretary of State to withhold certain assistance from those countries that have “failed demonstrably” in adhering to international agreements on endangered or threatened species.
Additionally, H.R. 2494 presses the U.S. government to provide security assistance to appropriate African security forces to counter wildlife trafficking, supports the expansion and strengthening of regional wildlife enforcement networks (WENs), and supports the professionalization of the wildlife law enforcement sector in partner countries.
“The very disturbing reality is that some of the world’s most majestic animals have become ‘blood currency’ for rebel groups and terrorist organizations in Africa”, says Chairman Royce. “Poaching is bigger than natural security. It is a national security issue.”
“Time isn’t on our side. Each day of inaction means more animals poached and more cash for terrorists. This vital legislation holds foreign governments accountable by ‘naming and shaming’ the worst violators and adds greater consequences for traffickers in this illicit trade. And it presses the Administration to continue to provide important security assistance to African park rangers.”
Once the Global Anti-Poaching Act is passed in the Senate, it will be signed into law by the President of the United States.
Annamiticus welcomes the House passage of H.R. 2494 as a critical step in the enforcement of organized crime laws against wildlife traffickers.