India, US join hands to tackle illegal wildlife trade
New Delhi: India and the US have decided to join hands to tackle illegal wildlife trade, which involves billions of dollars annually.
US and Indian government officials, representatives of NGOs, wildlife lawyers and enforcement officials today discussed some of their challenges, and successes in combating wildlife trafficking in the roundtable organised by the US Embassy and WWF/TRAFFIC India--two global organisations engaged in wildlife related issues--here.
"The United States and India have worked together on wildlife conservation for over 25 years. We will continue to work together to combat poaching, manage our wildlife resources, improve enforcement capacity, and reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products," said a joint statement issued after the meeting.
Co-chairing a panel discussion on Illegal Trade in Wildlife with WWF-India CEO and Secretary General Ravi Singh, US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment Robert D Hormats emphasised the need for high- level political will, public outreach, and greater international coordination and cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking.
He was also of the opinion that regional enforcement networks such as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) should be strengthened to deal with the problem.
Singh noted the intimate link between the decline of India's wildlife species, and alarming trends in illegal wildlife trafficking.
"It is imperative that issues of illegal wildlife trade should be taken up in a strategic manner, linking national agencies and senior government executives. Here, the US government can be an important partner on global wildlife intelligence, networking and sharing of best practices in enforcement," he said.
According to the WWF-India, illegal wildlife trade is estimated at USD 10-20 billion annually, and is among the largest sources of illegal trade.