House Takes Stand Against Wildlife Trafficking
Wildlife Trafficking has become blood currency for rebel groups and international gangs, says Foreign Affairs Chair
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House passed the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494), legislation authored by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which helps the United States and partner countries combat today’s unprecedented level of poaching and wildlife trafficking.
On the legislation’s passage, Chairman Royce said: “The very disturbing reality is that some of the world’s most majestic animals have become ‘blood currency’ for rebel groups and terrorist organizations in Africa. Poaching is bigger than natural security. It is a national security issue. Wildlife trafficking is now among the most lucrative criminal activities worldwide – worth an estimated $10 billion annually.
“Time isn’t on our side. Each day of inaction means more animals poached and more cash for terrorists. This vital legislation holds foreign governments accountable by ‘naming and shaming’ the worst violators and adds greater consequences for traffickers in this illicit trade. And it presses the Administration to continue to provide important security assistance to African park rangers.”
Additionally, the legislation:
- requires the Secretary of State to identify the foreign countries determined to be a major source, transit point, or consumer of wildlife trafficking products and make a special designation for those countries that have “failed demonstrably” in adhering to international agreements on endangered or threatened species (the Secretary of State is authorized to withhold certain assistance from countries that have received this special designation);
- puts wildlife trafficking in the same category as weapons trafficking and drug trafficking, making it a liable offense for money laundering and racketeering, and requires fines, forfeitures, and restitution received to be transferred to federal conservation and anti-poaching efforts;
- presses the Administration to continue to provide security assistance to African countries for counter-wildlife-trafficking efforts;
- expands wildlife enforcement networks to help partner countries strengthen coordination and share information and intelligence on illegal wildlife trafficking on a regional basis;
- supports increased professionalization of partner countries’ wildlife law enforcement rangers on the front lines of the fight against poachers, who are often armed with night-vision goggles, heavy weaponry, and even helicopters.