Over the last two days at Lancaster House in London a symposium has been in progress about the illegal trade in wildlife products. A symposium is a posh word for a meeting. Prince Charles and Prince William are hosting the event so its only right it should be posh. On Thursday the process will culminate in a conference attended by heads of state from all over the world, indication that at last the issue is being taken seriously. Despite some recent hiccups http://gu.com/p/3mt75/tw the royals and especially William deserve a lot of credit for using their pulling power to make the event happen. Prince William recently set up United for Wildlife http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/#!/home a fund dedicated to fighting the illegal wildlife trade, he is the patron of the Tusk Trust http://www.tusk.org and has also been very active with WildAid making publicity videos in China against the ivory trade. You can see a video featuring the princes promoting the conference here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL4-xXcBbNc.
Whether or not the conference will produce any results remains to be seen, already however the high profile nature of the event and the significant media attention being generated can only be a good thing. The illegal trade in wildlife products is now up there with drugs and small arms as one of the biggest areas of criminal activity in the world. In the case of the ivory trade recent work highlighting links to terrorism and the politically and socially destabilising nature of the trade have caught the attention of decision makers across the world. Last year momentum and awareness began to build in the light of shocking statistics, stories and photographs emerging from Africa about poaching. Underlining this narrative is the sobering fact that we are facing an extinction event for the African elephant, here in Tanzania conservative estimates put the rate of loss at 30 elephants per day, at that rate the second largest population in Africa could be gone inside 7 years. I would rather we didn't have to use photos like the one below to remember what elephants looked like.
Indications are that some of the big conservation groups are pushing to focus on reducing demand for products such as Ivory. Awareness campaigns in China http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awZMAnKXCGk have already started to make inroads into tradition and dogma that hold ivory as having medicinal and status value, a lot of Chinese people for example believe that ivory falls out of elephants and it is not necessary to kill them. Hopefully we can see the pro-trade brigade put to bed once and for all at the conference, there can be no trade in illegal wildlife products at all. For more on the event and about the ivory trade crisis have a look at the links below, theres even one from the Daily Mail, for talking about corruption in a way that a lot of media are reluctant to do. You can always get in touch with me if you want to know more.
http://annamiticus.com/2014/02/10/world-leaders-gather-international-wildlife-trafficking-symposium-london/ For links to live streams of the event