First High-Level Conference On Illegal Wildlife Trade In South America Was Held In Peru Focusing On Saving Jaguars

High-level officials from both government, intergovernmental and non-profit organizations, including representatives from The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), convened in Lima, Peru, for the first-ever Americas Regional Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade. Developed collaboratively since 2017 by several entities, including IFAW, the conference represents a fundamental first step in establishing partnerships within the region for the prevention and control of illegal wildlife trade. The outcome of the conference includes country participants signing the Lima Declaration, a formal commitment to addressing the threat of illegal wildlife trade and developing collaborative, multilateral actions to combat its proliferation.

Species-rich Latin America holds over 40% of the Earth’s biodiversity and over one quarter of its forests, turning the region into a global hotspot of the illegal wildlife trade, and making immediate action critical to the survival of many of the region’s species. Key discussion topics at the regional conference ranged from the prevalence of corruption and the various economic crimes involved in wildlife trafficking, to the current controls and regulations governing wildlife trade, to the use of technologies needed to combat illegal trade, including demand reduction mechanisms.

Padu Franco, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Regional Director for Andes, Amazonia and Orinoquia said in a statement, “Ultimately, we will not be able to protect wildlife and the ecosystems until governments, communities, donors, and the general public recognize the danger of wildlife crimes and commit to tackle them together.”

Given the presence of major transit and destination countries in the region, the impact of the illegal wildlife trade throughout the region is formidable. The breadth and scale of this illicit trade can range from the slaughter of elephants abroad for ivory, to the sale of reptiles and exotic birds as domestic pets, to jaguar body parts used for so-called “traditional medicines.” One aspect of the conference that has garnered attention due to its regional significance is the poaching and trade of the jaguar, its body parts, and various derivatives.

Joaquin de la Torre Ponce, IFAW’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean said in a statement, “As the largest big cat species in the Americas, the iconic jaguar, beyond its critical role in the ecosystem, holds tremendous cultural significance. Collaborative joint action that was discussed throughout this first Americas conference is critical to addressing the illegal wildlife trade which is universally recognized as a growing threat to this keystone species.”

As one of the most lucrative types of organized crime, wildlife trafficking is heavily dependent on sophisticated networks involving bribery, money laundering, and often violence. Hence, trade in illegal wildlife is a serious crime that not only threatens species biodiversity and the environment, but also threatens human security. Therefore, IFAW works to break every link in the trade chain, from poaching to trafficking to demand. Their teams across the globe monitor wildlife markets online and offline, sharing intelligence with law enforcement agencies that lead to market crackdowns and criminal prosecution. These efforts, coupled with lobbying efforts, are changing laws and transforming the marketplace.

To learn more about IFAW’s impact in combating the illegal wildlife trade, CLICK HERE!

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