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UN chief warns against illegal wildlife trade
« on: June 05, 2016, 04:07:43 AM »
UN chief warns against illegal wildlife trade
By Catherine J. Teves

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is seeking from the international community more action against continuing illegal wildlife trade.

"There's grave cause for alarm," he said in his message for the 2016 World Environment Day (WED).

He raised urgency for action, noting illicit wildlife trade not only feeds corruption and related criminal activities but is also driving thousands of wild flora and fauna species closer to extinction.

Such natural resource depletion due to unscrupulous parties' greed for short-term gain is jeopardizing biodiversity and ecological equilibrium needed for long-term benefit of communities and habitats, he noted.

"I urge people and governments to overcome indifference, combat greed and act to preserve our natural heritage for the benefit of this and future generations," he said.

Mr. Ban lauded 2016 WED global host Angola for deciding to no longer tolerate sale of illegal wildlife products.

Angola is also strengthening legislation and increasing border controls to help restore the elephant population which was affected by civil war, he noted.

"Such action sends a strong message that wild species of plants and animals are a precious commodity that must be sustainably managed and protected from illegal trade," he said.

In 1972, UN General Assembly designated June 5 as WED.

The annual WED is UN's principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness about and action for the environment.

Anchored on the theme 'Go Wild for Life,' this year's WEDcelebration aims helping promote zero tolerance for slaughter and illegal trade of wildlife around the world.

"Elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory, rhinos for their horns and pangolins for their scales," noted Mr. Ban.

Philippine environment chief Ramon Paje also called for more action against illegal wildlife trade, warning specie extinction is irreversible.

Losses from specie extinction were permanent, he also said.

"Driven by high profits, illegal wildlife trade continues - we must continue, expand and intensify efforts to curb this illicit business including importation of invasive species to the country," he said earlier this week.

Paje spearheaded in 2013 the environment department's destruction of about five tons of confiscated elephant tusks worth some USD10 million and previously smuggled into the Philippines from Africa.

He described the tusks' destruction - an Asian first - as a "strong statement to the rest of the world that the Philippines is serious about not tolerating illegal trade of ivory."

Similar destructions followed in the US, China, France, Chad, Belgium Hongkong, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Congo, United Arab Emirates and Thailand, noted Department of Environment and Natural Resources which Paje heads.

Mr. Ban said the public can help address the problem by not buying products of illegal wildlife trade.

Governments can institute change by fully implementing policies on protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, he continued.

"The campaign asks everyone to pledge ending illegal trade in wildlife," he said.

UN already undertook several measures for helping address such illicit activity, noted Mr. Ban.

He said such measures include setting, in the SustainableDevelopment Goals 193 UN member-States adopted in 2015, targets for ending poaching.

"Last month at the second UN Environment Assembly i Nairobi, we launched UN's 'Wild for Life' global campaign," he also said.

Spearheading the campaign are UN Environment Programme, UN Development Programme, UN Office on Drugs and Crime as well as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, he added.(PNA)

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