In 2016, the EU Commission adopted a communication with 32 actions to strengthen the fight against wildlife crime within the EU. The Action Plan covers a five-year period from 2016 to 2020. In 2020, the Commission published the Biodiversity for Strategy for 2030 and committed to renewing the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which has been published today.
Earlier in the year, FOUR PAWS participated in the public consultation and stakeholder meeting on the revision of this important Action Plan, highlighting the need to raise awareness to address both legal and illegal trade in captive-bred endangered species, such as tigers and other big cats, as well as the need for EU guidance to help Member States on how authorities can better manage confiscated or seized wild animals with the expansion of a true sanctuary network. We also supported the adoption of an EU-wide Positive List as tabled by Cyprus and supported by 19 other Member States, called for a ban on trophy hunting imports and emphasized links between wild animal trade and the risk of zoonotic disease emergence and spread, through illegal and legal chains.
Some notable and encouraging developments included in the new 2022-2027 Plan are:
- A focus on multi-agency cooperation and coordination to effectively prevent, detect, prosecute and sanction wildlife crime. With cooperation being strengthened: (i) between the law-enforcement authorities of EU Member States; and (ii) between the EU, its Member States and non-EU countries
- Reducing consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife by promoting the effective implementation of CITES Resolution Conf. 17.4 on demand-reduction strategies to combat illegal trade in CITES-listed species
- Implement an EU CITES e-permitting system to better facilitate and regulate legal trade
- A ‘One Health’ approach to be considered in the context of regulating wildlife trade in source, transit and destination countries
- To apply increased scrutiny to imports of hunting trophies by working with international partners to update available evidence on the impacts of trophy hunting on wildlife
- Exploring the need for, added value of, and feasibility of revising existing measures or creating new tools to reduce unsustainable trade in wildlife (e.g., a ‘positive list’ of species whose specimens taken from the wild can be traded and kept as pets; criminalizing all trade in illegally sourced wildlife; or requiring the registration of all animals and plants brought to the EU).
- Increase effort in tackling the online aspects of wildlife trafficking, through implementing the recommendations of CITES Resolution Conf. 11.3 paragraphs 12 and 13 on wildlife crime linked to the internet and developing EU-specific guidelines on the online trade in wild species, in line with the upcoming Digital Services Act
- Improving access to care for seized or confiscated live animals by expanding networks of specialized rescue centers at the national level, whilst sharing information about the centers at EU level
Vanessa Amoroso, Head of Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS International says: “We are encouraged by the actions anticipated in the revised Action plan and to see that work will begin on demand reduction, which of course will help stem wildlife trade. It is also promising that further investigations will be made into the implementation of Positive List legislation, which can contribute to ending the commercial trade of big cats, such as tigers, and other wild animals. As an animal rescue organisation, we are delighted to see more support for extended sanctuary work – giving wild animals species appropriate care free from exploitation for the rest of their lives.”
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org