Update on Recent U.S. and International Efforts to Combat Illicit Wildlife Trafficking
International efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and poaching are vital because of the slaughter of many of the world’s most vulnerable species to meet a rapidly expanding illegal trade. A growing demand for illegal and exotic wildlife products has contributed to the illegal hunting of endangered or threatened species across the globe, including sharks, tigers, rhinos, and elephants, among others. Transnational criminal organizations are focusing their efforts on wildlife trafficking as it has become one of the most lucrative forms of international illegal crime. Wildlife trafficking is now valued at between $7 billion and $10 billion a year, putting it in the top five illegal activities, after drugs, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and weapons.
In recognition of the growing problem, international and U.S. efforts are targeting new and innovative ways to protect and conserve our wildlife resources. In July 2013, President Obama announced, pursuant to an Executive Order, the creation of a Cabinet-level task force to create a national strategy to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking around the world. An advisory panel was also formed through the Executive Order, the members of which are tasked with providing advice and recommendations to the Task Force.
This panel will bring together governmental, nongovernmental, private sector and academic representatives to discuss recent domestic and international efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, the Executive Order on Wildlife Trafficking, and describe efforts of the Administration to implement the Executive Order.