The European Commission has announced that it plans to develop an EU Action Plan on Wildlife Trafficking. The European Union is a major transit hub and destination for many illegal wild animals and wildlife products. Around 2,500 seizures are made each year in the EU, consisting of anything from elephant ivory and rhino horn, to live primates, birds and reptiles destined for the exotic pet trade; these seizures represent only a tiny fraction of the illegal trade.

Welcoming the announcement, Born Free Foundation Chief Executive Adam M Roberts said:

“The proposed EU Action Plan on wildlife trafficking is a vital step in addressing Europe’s significant role as both a transit point and destination for illegal wildlife parts and products. The massive scale of wildlife trafficking globally has a devastating impact on the conservation of some of the world’s most imperiled species, and threatens the stability and national security of already vulnerable African nations. Born Free welcomes European leadership in tackling today’s historic wildlife poaching crisis.”

The illegal wildlife trade, with an estimated value in excess of €17 billion per year, ranks among the illicit trade in narcotics, people, arms, and counterfeit goods. Increasingly under the control of organised criminal groups, the trade threatens species conservation, has a devastating impact on the welfare of millions of individual animals, and undermines economic, social and political security in many parts of the world. It is also believed to fund militias and terrorist groups.

The Born Free Foundation has been at the forefront of efforts to encourage the European Commission to take meaningful action, both at home and abroad, to curb the trade. In April, Born Free launched a report entitled ‘End Wildlife Trafficking’ at an exhibition in the European Parliament, containing recommendations for an EU Action Plan. The Foundation is also working closely with the MEPs for Wildlife interest group in pursuing an action plan, and coordinating input from wider civil society groups.

The Born Free Foundation will continue to work with the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States to ensure the Action Plan is fit for purpose and robustly implemented.