Henry Smith: Tackling the illegal wildlife trade

On Tuesday I’ll be questioning the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons over the work of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to help tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

Ivory should never be seen as a status symbol or a commodity for financial gain, which is why I welcome plans from the Government to ban its sale.

The proposals will not only protect elephants but will also help combat poaching by removing opportunities for criminals to trade illegally-poached ivory.

The number of elephants has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 each year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory.

UK-led action is necessary to stop the current rate of poaching. If this were to continue, elephants could become extinct within decades in some African countries.

This new ban will build on the UK’s work to tackle poaching and the illegal ivory trade. The British military already trains an elite force of anti-poachers in African countries, complimented by Border Force officers sharing their own expertise with international counterparts in identifying smuggled ivory to prevent wildlife trafficking.

In October, the UK will host a fourth international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, bringing global leaders to London to tackle the strategic challenges which are faced. This follows the ground-breaking London 2014 conference on the illegal wildlife trade, and subsequent conferences in Botswana and Vietnam.

While the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs takes a lead on this issue in the UK, a cross-governmental approach is needed to ensure results at home and abroad.

Henry Smith MP

Crawley Constituency

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