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Wildlife Crime

The Wildlife Crime Working Group works to improve the conservation and protection of wild flora and fauna threatened by domestic wildlife crime and international trade, also seeking to address the associated welfare issues. The working group aims to ensure the effective enforcement of UK wildlife laws and the proper implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and relevant EU directives.

Chair: Pete Charleston, Bat Conservation Trust
Vice Chair: David Cowdrey, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Link: Jodie Le Marquand, Information and Policy Coordinator

Update from the Group

Domestic Wildlife Crime

This month, Link’s Wildlife Crime Working Group published their third annual wildlife crime report. Since our first report of this kind, in 2016, reports of wildlife crimes have risen by 17%. However, as Government remain unable to report on the extent of wildlife crime, this data is piecemeal. We are calling on Government to record wildlife crime centrally, allowing for trends to be understood and hotspots discovered. Our report was launched in parliament at an event hosted by Kerry McCarthy MP, with over 15 MPs and peers attending to show support for ending wildlife crime and hearing more about our findings.

In 2018, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) launched England and Wales’s first Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy, running from 2018-2021. Produced in close consultation with many members of the Group, the Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy contains much to be welcomed, including echoing our calls for improved recording of wildlife crime. A key focus of the Group in 2019 is to help to deliver the objectives in this landmark strategy.

Publication of this strategy demonstrated clear consensus between the police and the NGO sector, and strengthened the case for the Home Office and Defra to make the urgent improvements needed to protect our wildlife from criminal activity. We were very pleased, therefore, to respond to a consultation in March on making wildlife crime recordable – the consultation is further proof of Link’s influence and impact on this important issue. We will continue to support the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in its pitch to the National Crime Registrar for improved recording of wildlife crime.

The Animal Welfare (sentencing) Bill is now at Committee stage. In July, the Wildlife Crime Group wrote a letter to the Committee expressing support for the Bill.

International work

Ahead of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Conference of the Parties (CoP18, the Group wrote to Defra Minister, Therese Coffey MP, setting out its collective priorities for the conference, and welcoming engagement from the UK authorities both before and during the CoP. Group members also had a valuable opportunities to discuss proposals for the CoP and align their own priorities.

In August, the group responded to Defra’s call for evidence on non-elephant ivory trade. The group focused its briefing on hippo ivory.

Heads of State signed a Declaration promising to increase action to tackle the illicit financial flows associated with wildlife trafficking and related corruption, and welcomed action to treat wildlife offences as predicate offences, including for money laundering crimes. However, the lack of tangible, clear, time-bound, measurable commitments in the Declaration leaves a feeling of an opportunity missed, and will make it hard to hold governments to account in spite of their fine words. Additionally, in May members of the group wrote to Secretary of State, Michael Gove, advocating for stronger protections for giraffes.

For further information, contact Jodie Le Marquand, Link's Information & Policy Coordinator

Last updated: 31 October 2019