Published 10 February 2007

CAWT in the act

Cambridge, UK, 10 February 2007—The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) was launched today by a partnership of governments and concerned organisations to tackle the growing problem of illegal trade in wild animals and plants.

The CAWT coalition comprises 4 government agencies and 13 organizations

“Illegal wildlife trade is a major challenge for conservation of threatened species and for the many people around the world whose access to wildlife resources and livelihoods are undermined by criminal activity”, said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.

The trade in wild animals and plants is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, involving anything from timber to ornamental plants and stag beetles, from fish to tiger skins and ivory. It is a source of food, medicine, shelter, cultural value and livelihood for a large proportion of the world’s population, especially in the developing world. But all too often it can pose a threat to species because of weak regulations, perverse economic incentives and over-exploitation of resources, frequently by criminal gangs.

Many governments have taken action individually to tackle these challenges and CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has played a critical role as a focus for international collaboration for the last 30 years.

“We trust the CAWT initiative will fully support, complement and enhance CITES’s efforts,” said Broad.

“CAWT has a critical role to play in keeping illegal wildlife trade high on the political agenda and in providing a platform for sharing of experiences, ideas and resources in the fight against wildlife crime.

“As a partner in CAWT, TRAFFIC is dedicated to making the most of this platform, to encourage wide participation and to add value, energy and a greater sense of urgency to the existing range of national, regional and international efforts to halt illegal wildlife trade.

“TRAFFIC is looking forward to the development of a clear plan of action, so that other countries and organizations can contribute and participate in meeting CAWT’s aims and objectives.”

CAWT’s aims are to: improve wildlife law enforcement; reduce consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife; and increase high-level political will to fight wildlife trafficking. Currently CAWT comprises government partners from Australia, India, the UK and USA, and a range of non-governmental and international organisations. Seven other governments and the Secretariats of two international conservation treaties were represented at the launch meeting, hosted at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Gigiri, Kenya.