Will Visit Gabon, Kenya & South Africa to Advance International Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade to Protect World’s Iconic Species
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell this week will travel to Africa on a multi-country visit to Gabon, Kenya and South Africa to meet with government officials, non-governmental organizations and conservation leaders to continue the United States’ work to combat the illegal trade of wildlife products in the U.S. and abroad.
Secretary Jewell’s travel to Africa, which begins Thursday, January 21, and runs through the following week, follows her recent participation at the http://www.cop21paris.org/">21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where she https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-jewell-discusses-combating-wildlife-trafficking-african-nations">met with senior officials from the countries of Gabon, Kenya and Namibia to discuss methods to combat wildlife trafficking in partnership with other consumer, transit and source countries.
Black markets in the U.S. and abroad are contributing to record high demand for wildlife products, which has a devastating impact on species such as elephants and rhinoceroses, pushing them into further decline and even near extinction. Criminal elements, including insurgent groups, are involved in poaching and transporting ivory and rhino horn across Africa.
African countries are major source countries for ivory, rhino horn and other illegally taken flora and fauna destined predominantly for markets in Asia. https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-jewell-meets-chinese-vice-premier-wang-yang-discuss-international-cooperation-combat">Secretary Jewell traveled to China and Vietnam last summer in a similar effort to further work to crack down on these black markets both at home and internationally.
This international outreach is part of President Obama’s https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/nationalstrategywildlifetrafficking.pdf">National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. The President’s http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/01/executive-order-combating-wildlife-trafficking">July 2013 Executive Order established an interagency Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking that is co-chaired by Secretary Jewell to develop and implement the strategy, as well as an Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking. As stated in the President’s Executive Order, wildlife trafficking reduces the economic, social and environmental benefits of wildlife while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to an illegal economy, fueling instability and undermining security.
The https://ustr.gov/tpp/">Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which is currently under public and congressional review, includes the strongest international commitments to fight the illegal trade in endangered species of any trade agreement in history. While Africa is not part of TPP, illicit wildlife parts and goods also pass through TPP waters, ports and countries. By increasing enforcement, enhancing information sharing and mandating action, the Obama Administration is helping cut off supplies of illegal ivory, rhino horn and other items and preventing poaching with the end goal saving Africa’s iconic species.