At a meeting at the White House, the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking made recommendations for combating wildlife trafficking at the national level.
Council will work with Presidential Task Force and White House to implement recommendations, putting U.S. government on course to lead in fight against wildlife poaching and trafficking
At the White House yesterday, the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking formally adopted and submitted to the President’s Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking a set of recommendations for implementing the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The recommendations are organized around three key priority areas: strengthening law enforcement; reducing demand for illegal wildlife products; and expanding international cooperation and commitment around combating the multibillion dollar illegal wildlife trade.
According to Dr. Patrick Bergin, CEO of African Wildlife Foundation and a member of the Advisory Council, the U.S. government’s commitment to fighting the illicit wildlife trade lends a huge boost to existing efforts already taking place on the ground in Africa and on other continents. He adds that on-the-ground efforts alone won’t eliminate the trade, however. As a participant of the subcommittee that provided recommendations on reducing demand for illegal wildlife products and raising awareness about wildlife trafficking, Bergin asserts the need to better understand the behaviors driving consumption of certain wildlife products.
“When it comes to reducing the demand of wildlife products—ivory and rhino horn for example—it is absolutely critical that we first understand and appreciate the deeply rooted historical and cultural beliefs that drive people to buy these products in the first place,” says Bergin. “That will ensure our messages and campaigns are informed, targeted, and able to resonate with consumers on an emotional level so that next time they go on a shopping spree, they think before they buy a wildlife product.”
The same behavioral research and understanding is also needed in range states, according to the council’s recommendations.
“In Africa, some people live in close proximity to their country’s wildlife, especially in the rural areas, while others are very removed from their wildlife, especially if they live in urban areas,” Bergin explains. “We have to be sensitive to and understand the nature of the relationship between people and wildlife in these countries. Once we have that understanding, we can build awareness-raising campaigns around the plight of wildlife and help citizens and governments alike become advocates for protecting one of their greatest resources.”
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