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Illegal wildlife trade rife at the New Zealand border

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Protected species the world over are being hammered by the global illegal wildlife trade. Recently released data from the Department of Conservation show that New Zealand is part of the problem, as wildlife seizures skyrocket.

Seizures of internationally protected species have increased by a whopping 300% at our border - from 2,268 seizures in 2011 to 9,078 seizures in 2017.Each seizure included one or more item, occasionally over one hundred.Most of the seizures occurred at airports, Auckland airport in particular.

Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand (JGINZ) Ambassador and environmental policy analyst, Fiona Gordon, says that New Zealand seizures include everything from crocodile jerky, coral and shells to medicines containing American ginseng, pangolin, tiger, leopard and the critically endangered Saiga antelope. "Then there’s the particularly grisly items," she says, "the elephant feet, ivory carvings, bears’ gall bladders, python belly skins, primate skulls and chopped up sea horses."

Not to be blamed solely on the sinister operation of criminal syndicates, the illegal wildlife trade includes the innocent purchases of tourist trinkets, fashion statements, herbal remedies and snack food. It’s all part of the global illegal wildlife chain.

The 9,078 seizures of illegal wildlife in New Zealand for 2017:

- Corals and shells -over 5,500 seizures. Largely from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Australia, Tonga, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Samoa, Niue, French Polynesia and Indonesia.

- Meat - over 1,000 seizures. Mostly crocodile from Australia and alligatorfrom the United States.

- Medicine - over 700 seizures. Pills, potions, ointments and plasterscontaining a range of species including crocodile, orchid, costus (plant), primates, bears, leopard and turtles. Largely from China. Also, from countries including Singapore, Australia and Malaysia.

- Roots - over 700 seizures.Mostly American Ginseng (herbaceous plant) and also tropical tree ferns and Gastrodia (orchid). Largely from China. Also, from countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Canada.

New Zealand has received an invite to the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference being held in London in October. It’s reportedly the first time New Zealand has been invited to the annual conference. The Department of Conservation has not yet confirmed if New Zealand representatives will attend.

Helen Clark, JGINZ Patron, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Former UNDP Administrator, will be attending the London Conference and says, "Wildlife crime poses dangers not only to the environment but to the rule of law and stability and impinges on sustainable development. We need to shore up our collective global response and the Conference is a great opportunity for New Zealand to engage in that."

"The Conference offers a valuable and important opportunity for New Zealand to engage with our overseas counterparts on this issue."

"We need to stop wildlife trafficking at the source to have a meaningful impact, this requires global collaboration."

Ms Gordon considers there is a dire need for information to be more readily available to international travellers, for example at travel agents, airport departure lounges, duty-free shops and in-flight. "It’s a credit to our enforcement agencies that so many protected wildlife items are being confiscated," says Ms Gordon, "but we do need to look back up the chain and figure out how we can stop these items arriving here in the first place."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime rank the global illegal wildlife trade alongside human trafficking, drugs and arms in terms of profits.

For further information on international trade in wildlife: https://www.doc.govt.nz/about-us/international-agreements/endangered-species/cites-species/

#NoDomesticTrade #JanesTrafficStop

‘No Domestic Trade’ Letter for the Public to Sign

http://www.janegoodall.org.nz/no-domestic-trade-letter/

‘No Domestic Trade’ Campaign Details

http://www.janegoodall.org.nz/jgi-nz-campaigns/janes-traffic-stop/

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