Catherine Bearder MEP writes… We need to act now to protect elephants

ELephants Bostwana Sedudu Photo by Mp3iefEvery 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory. This rapid rate of human destruction has seen the population of African elephants plummet from 10 million in 1910 to a low 434,000 now.

If we want to protect elephants from being confined to the history books we need to act now.

That’s why this week I called for an EU Action Plan to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade in a letter to the new European Commission, co-signed by 82 fellow MEPs from 24 countries.

The joint campaign with the Sunday Mirror and Born Free has already attracted broad-based support from all of the party groupings in the parliament. Many of my colleagues can see that we can no longer dilly-dally if we want to halt and reverse the terrifying trend which sees many creatures firmly on the road to extinction.

Wildlife crime also has human costs, having a knock-on effect in many other areas. It fuels corruption, instability and poverty. While there is big money to be made it is the very vulnerable, lured into poaching for small but easy money, who are putting themselves in harm’s way.

With an estimated annual turnover of $19million, the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world and yet, unlike the illegal drugs trade, counterfeiting and human-trafficking, there is no coordinated strategy to tackle wildlife crime.

The EU has led the way in tackling some of the most pressing problems facing us globally. Illegal wildlife trade is a truly cross-border issue spanning all continents. That’s why it makes sense to me that we should be tackling it at the international level; only through coordination and sharing intelligence and best-practice can we even begin to address the issue.

The three central focusses of the Action Plan I want to see are: a permanent EU fund to boost anti-poaching efforts, a new Wildlife Crime Unit in the EU’s crime-fighting agency (Europol) and tougher minimum sanctions across Europe for wildlife criminals.

If you want to see the EU develop an Action Plan for illegal wildlife trade to protect some of the world’s most endangered wildlife for our children and grandchildren then please sign my petition.

* Catherine Bearder is a Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East and Leader of the European Parliament Liberal Democrat Group.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Helen Tedcastle 15th Nov '14 - 2:23pm

    This is a very important cause. If the poachers and their managers in Asia aren’t stopped, there will literally be no Tigers, Elephants and Rhinos left for future generations to see – except in a few zoos.

    I would urge everyone to sign the petition to stop the appalling and unnecessary trade in ivory, rhino horn and skins before it is too late to save such beautiful and intelligent creatures.

  • Stephen Hesketh 15th Nov '14 - 3:10pm

    I too urge everyone to sign. This is one of those important ‘common ground’ issues we should be vigorously campaigning on. I and members of my extended family have all signed Catherine Bearder’s online petition.

    The problem is clear evidence that individuals and groups are perfectly capable of following very short term behaviours with absolutely no thought of the future. Replace poachers of endangered species with investment bankers, climate change deniers, unfettered free marketeers etc.

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