Belfast Telegraph

Zoos join forces to fight illegal wildlife trade

The pact is being launched ahead of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London.

Zoos in Britain and Ireland have teamed up with aquariums, wildlife crime agencies and the UK Government to end illegal wildlife trade.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza), which has 117 members, has agreed a pact with the Government to put a stop to the illegal trading of animals as part of a battle against environmental crime, which is estimated to be worth up to £17 billion a year.

Chester Zoo, a member of Biaza, is one of the leading supporters of the campaign, and last week welcomed a new sun bear cub, born to parents who were rescued from illegal traders in Cambodia.

Conservationists at the zoo have created an online reporting form allowing members of the public to report instances of the illegal wildlife trade directly to the UK Wildlife Crime Unit and Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

The zoo has also backed the Wildlife Witness app, which allows users to report wildlife trade by taking a photo and pinning the location of an incident, then sending the details to Traffic.

Mark Pilgrim, chief executive at Chester Zoo, said: “The illegal wildlife trade is one of the greatest threats to the future of wildlife today but together we can make great strides towards wiping it out.

“We believe it’s really important that people understand the issues around illegal wildlife trade so they can help take important actions to help prevent it.

“If you witness any illegal wildlife trade activity, whether in the UK or when you’re travelling abroad, you can help us stamp it out by reporting it to the relevant authorities as soon as it is safe to do so. Action is critical. Together, we can all help to prevent extinction.”

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A fire-tufted barbet at Chester Zoo (Chester Zoo/PA)

Biaza chief executive Kirsten Pullen said: “Our members are uniquely placed to have a major impact in helping to put an end to this abhorrent business.

“Many are already carrying out their own initiatives that support the reporting of illegal wildlife trade activities, assisting officials in helping to identify trafficked species as well as raising awareness amongst more than 30 million visitors annually.

“This new pact will facilitate a more unified approach and enable us to have greater impact in putting an end to the illegal wildlife trade.”

The pact between Biaza and the Government is being launched ahead of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London on October 11 and 12.

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs said up to 1,000 people, including global leaders and conservationists, are expected to attend.

Environment minister Therese Coffey said Biaza and its members, are “carrying out important work to support wildlife around the globe by helping to stamp out this vile trade”.

“Zoos and aquariums play an important role in helping species to survive through their education and conservation programmes,” she added.

“Building on the success of past summits to protect critically endangered species, the London conference marks a collective intent to work together, share learnings and forge new partnerships. Together, we can disrupt the criminality that is destroying flora and fauna on an unprecedented scale.”

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