WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement marking World Rhino Day:
“In the last decade, rhino poaching has increased to the point that the number of rhinos slaughtered by poachers will soon exceed the number of births—a potential path toward extinction. In South Africa alone, the number of rhinos killed annually has risen from 13 in 2007 to more than 1,200 today.
“This crime is more than a threat to one of the world’s most iconic creatures. Those who profit from poaching contribute to public corruption, fuel a destabilizing network of criminal organizations and armed groups, and undermine American efforts to support good governance and rule of law around the world.
“That’s why I joined Chairman Royce in introducing the Global Anti-Poaching Act, which I hope the House will soon consider. This bill would bring wildlife trafficking under existing U.S. money-laundering and racketeering statutes, support the professionalization of wildlife law-enforcement units on the ground, and allow us to provide them non-lethal assistance. It would also strengthen regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks designed to combat poaching and would name and shame governments that aren’t taking this problem seriously.
“This bill would complement existing efforts such as the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking announced by President Obama in 2014, and the successful collaboration between the Interior and Justice Departments that landed a trafficker in prison for 30 years after selling rhino horns, elephant ivory, and coral.
“As we mark World Rhino Day, we should recommit ourselves to protecting these incredible animals and to stopping a threat to global stability and security.”