A £10M boost for the fight against international wildlife crime has been announced by two government departments.
The cash injection by the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be used to help the UK and other countries tackle the illicit trade in products including rhino horn and elephant ivory.
Illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-pound underground industry which promotes corruption, damages tourism opportunities and undermines economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries, the departments said.
Armed poachers and organised criminal networks are destroying some of the world’s most iconic species and posing a threat to security in rural African communities.
An international conference targeting the problem will be hosted next February by David Cameron, which will be attended by the Prince of Wales.
Justine Greening, International Development Secretary, said: “By working with Defra to tackle the illegal wildlife trade we are helping to improve the economic opportunities of the poorest people whose livelihoods depend on natural resources.
“Dfid carries out significant work tackling corruption and illicit flows from developing countries and this fund will also help stop the corruption fuelled by the illegal wildlife trade.”
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, said: “Poaching devastates livelihoods and sustainable communities as well as endangering the existence of these wonderful animals.
“We must work together with other countries to stamp it out by stopping demand, improving enforcement and by helping communities develop sustainable economic activity.
“The wildlife in areas where this is already being done becomes a valued and protected community asset so both the wildlife and the community benefit.”
Funding, which will be available to governments, charities and NGOs, will be awarded to support action in developing countries including on reducing the opportunity and incentive to poach by improving economic opportunities and promoting security and good governance.
It will also be used to provide training and access to better equipment and practical support to agencies in their efforts to address the illegal trade, while reducing demand for illegal wildlife and animal products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn, and tiger parts by raising awareness of the impacts and economic losses caused by wildlife crime.
The fund will be available to address illegal wildlife trade in the most affected developing countries, either because they have threatened populations of animals or a strong demand for illegal wildlife products.
“Transit” developing countries through which the trade in wildlife occurs, including some of those in the Commonwealth, will also be eligible.
The London Conference will aim to address three inter- related aspects of the illegal wildlife trade:
Supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade;
Improving law-enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system;
Reducing demand for wildlife products.