The Problem

Wildlife Crime

Serious wildlife crime is organised, transnational, is fuelled by corruption, and has a devastating impact on wildlife, local communities, national economies, security, public health and entire ecosystems, including their ability to sequester carbon. Of all the known threats to wildlife, the illegal taking, trade and consumption of wildlife is one of the most destructive and destabilising.

Despite the severe impacts of such crimes, we do not have a global agreement on wildlife crime and existing wildlife trade laws are not adequately complied with or enforced.

Wildlife Trade

Scientific research indicates that COVID-19 was most likely transmitted to humans from its reservoir host, a horseshoe bat, via another intermediate host species. We know that past epidemics and pandemics have been caused by wildlife-related zoonotic diseases (e.g., Ebola, SARS, MERS, HIV/AIDS and others) and the conditions that make spillover from animals to humans more likely. The UN IPBES also reported that 1.7 million undiscovered viruses are thought to exist in wild animals, about half of which could spill over to people, including through wildlife trade, markets, and consumption.

Despite the risks to public health and animal health of high-risk wildlife trade, markets and consumption habits, current international wildlife trade laws do not take account of public or animal health issues and there is a need to take a ‘One Health’ approach to wildlife trade, markets and consumption.

000,000,
000

199

Transnational wildlife crime worth is estimated at up to US$199 billion annually

000,000,
000

7-12

Wildlife crime may deprive governments of as much as US$7-12 billion in revenues each year

000,000,
000,000

1-2

Wildlife crime has an estimated full global economic value of between US$1-2 trillion per year

Nature is in unprecedented decline

A million species are at risk of extinction

Biodiversity loss exacerbates climate change

Overexploitation of wildlife is a major driver of species decline

Wildlife exploitation increases human health risks

Wildlife can be exploited by criminals along the entire supply chain

OUR RESPONSE

The Global Initiative to “End Wildlife Crime” was created in June 2020 to encourage States to fill serious gaps in international law by advocating for and offering technical support to:

Steve Winter ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM
Steve Winter ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM

Create a new global agreement on preventing and combating wildlife crime, in the form of an additional Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC)

UNTOC Wildlife Protocol

Amend existing international wildlife trade laws, particularly the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to include public health and animal health into decision making, or to develop a new international instrument.

CITES Proposal

Adopt a new international agreement on pandemic prevention

Pandemics Treaty

During the initial phase of its work, the Initiative engaged with governments from across all regions, highlighting the need to strengthen the international legal framework for combating wildlife crime and adopting a “One Health” approach to wildlife trade and markets. 

In May 2021, the presidents of Costa Rica and Gabon – two source countries rich in biodiversity – jointly called for a new global agreement on wildlife crime, in the form of an additional Protocol to the UNTOC. The presidents of Angola and Malawi followed shortly after. 

Following these powerful presidential statements, the Initiative reoriented its work towards supporting, upon request, the countries that publicly called for an additional Protocol. The Initiative is now focussed on supporting, upon request, the States that sponsored or co-sponsored the Resolution on ‘Strengthening the international legal framework for international cooperation to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in wildlife’ adopted by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in May 2022. 

Efforts to garner support for making amendments to CITES to include public health and animal health into its decision making has not yet found favour with Parties, primarily due to a desire to retain the narrow focus of the Convention on the conservation implications of international trade in wildlife and a concern that opening up the Convention text to make these changes could lead to other unrelated amendments. 

As such, the Initiative has orientated its efforts around supporting a new international instrument, namely the proposed Pandemics Treaty, and for such an agreement to include specific obligations regarding any wildlife trade, markets and consumption that could pose a risk to human or animal health. This has included making several submissions to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and providing technical inputs to the WHO on what species could pose such a risk. This technical input is being provided by one of the Initiative’s International Champions, Species360.

WHO WE ARE

End Wildlife Crime is an alliance of individuals and organisations that support the need for these law reforms. It is hosted by the ADM Capital Foundation, overseen by a small steering group, and is chaired by John Scanlon AO, former Secretary General of CITES and Principal Adviser at UNEP.

The steering group comprising ADM Capital Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, Born Free Foundation, Global Environmental Institute, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), the Food and Land Use Coalition (represented by SYSTEMIQ) and Freeland provide structured guidance.

Special advisers provide subject matter support, including Neil Harvey, executive chairman of ADM Capital, adviser on private sector engagement, Craig Hoover, Executive Vice President of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,  adviser on CITES and Gilda Moratti, adviser on partnerships.

The initiative also draws on technical support from a range of experts and images from the Photographers Against Wildlife Crime. In addition, it has created an International Champions to End Wildlife Crime network.

End Wildlife Crime’s starting point is that the status quo is not an option. Transformative change is required to international laws to address global biodiversity, climate, development, public and animal health challenges.

Alexander Rhodes

Head of Mishcon Purpose

Mishcon de Reya

Marcus Asner

Partner

Arnold & Porter

Christina Voigt

Chair elect

IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law

Daniel Kachelriess

Senior Policy Specialist

Sea Shepherd Legal

Dr Angus Nurse BA (Hons) MSc LLM PhD SFHEA

Associate Professor

Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex University

Edward Davey

Director, Partnerships and Engagement, Food and Land Use Coalition, World Resources Institute

Olivia Swaak-Goldman

Executive Director

Wildlife Justice Commission

Professor Dirk Pfeiffer

Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology, Royal Veterinary College

Chair Professor of One Health, City University Hong Kong

Professor Tanya Wyatt

Department of Social Sciences

Northumbria University

END WILDLIFE CRIME

business as usual is not an option

Credit: Charlie Hamilton James ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM

WHAT'S NEXT

Wildlife crime - In May 2022, the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) adopted an historic resolution, originally submitted by Angola, Kenya and Peru, inviting Member States to share their views on a potential additional Protocol to the UNTOC. It was the first time a UN resolution mentioned a potential new global agreement on tackling wildlife trafficking. The Initiative is working to support, upon request, the original co-sponsors of the resolution in the implementation of the resolution. The views of Member States on an additional Protocol to the UNTOC will be made available during the next session of the CCPCJ (May 2023).

Wildlife trade - The Initiative will continue to support the proposed Pandemics Treaty, advocating for such an agreement to include specific obligations regarding any wildlife trade, markets and consumption that could pose a risk to human or animal health. Working with one of its International Champions, Species360, the Initiative is engaging with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to identify what wildlife species are more likely to pose such a risk.

International Champions

To End Wildlife Crime

Responding to a high-level of interest shown in the Initiative in July 2020, the Steering Group created a International Champions to End Wildlife Crime network who:

  • Support our Statement of Purpose
  • Advance the objectives of the Initiative within their organisations sphere of influence

The founding Champions were, ADM Capital,  the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA),  the Treadright Foundation, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC), and the network has now grown to close to 30 organisations.

Current Champions

Founding Champion

Founding Champion

Founding Champion

Founding Champion

Learn more
\
Zheng Xiaoqun ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM
\
Chris Packham ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM
\
Brent Stirton ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM
\
Adam Oswell ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM
\
Adrian Steirn ©PHOTOGRAPHERS AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME TM

SUBSCRIBE

TO THE GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO END WILDLIFE CRIME

  • Hidden
  • We will keep your details secure and will not share them with 3rd parties.

RESOURCES

Latest News & Events

Article

Progress Towards a New International Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Wildlife

Read more
Event

Preventing and Combatting Wildlife Trafficking – a Global Imperative

Read more
Blog

Two Years of Progress: The Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime

Read more
Report

Wild, Threatened, Farmed: Hong Kong’s Invisible Pets

Read more
Article

Wildlife must be protected from crime and trade for the sake of public and planetary health

Read more
Article

In harmony with nature

Read more
Article

Taking Action to Address Wildlife Crime’s Environmental, Health, and Security Risks

Read more
Paul Hilton / Earth Tree Images
Podcast

John Scanlon on the Case for Criminalizing Wildlife Trafficking under International Law

Read more
Opinion

Scourge of Wildlife Trafficking Must End, Op-Ed by President Ali Bongo Ondimba and President Carlos Alvarado Quesada

Read more
Opinion

Gabon and Costa Rica call for a new global agreement to prevent and combat wildlife crime, Op-Ed by President Ali Bongo Ondimba and President Carlos Alvarado Quesada

Read more
Load more