United States passes Global Anti-Poaching Act elevating wildlife crime to same level as drugs and weapons

It’s been a big week in U.S. legislation and decisions. But when we heard about the Global Anti-Poaching Act being passed on Thursday, we knew it was important to make note of it.

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday passed the Global Anti-Poaching Act, which will help the United States work with partner countries in disrupting and combating the global illegal wildlife trade. images-5

Introduced by U.S. Rep Ed Royce, chairman of the Committee, and U.S. Rep Eliot Engel, the committee’s ranking member, the bipartisan legislation focuses specifically on enabling various levers of government to go after the transnational gangs and international criminals involved in wildlife trafficking, which increasingly is being identified as a threat to national and regional security, particularly for U.S. allies in Africa.

Before the legislation was introduced by Representatives Royce and Engel, African Wildlife Foundation wrote a letter of support to both congressmen, thanking them for their focus on the issue and acknowledging that the new Act would serve as an important counterpart to the U.S.’s new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.imgres-1

Royce said:

“International wildlife trafficking and poaching has become a serious national security threat.  With its high profit margins and minimal risk, illicit wildlife trade has become a blood currency for transnational gangs and criminal syndicates.  As poaching rates explode, some of the world’s most majestic animals – elephants and rhinos – are being slaughtered and their horns and tusks on the black market.  It’s not hyperbole to ask – do we want our children to grow up in a world without elephants and rhinos?

Specifically, the Global Anti-Poaching Act will:

  • Require the U.S. Secretary of State to identify those countries determined to be major source, transit point, or consumer countries of wildlife trafficking products and designate them as having failed to address poaching and/or wildlife trafficking, thus giving the State Department the necessary authorization to withhold assistance to these countries.
  • Elevate the crime of wildlife trafficking to the same category as weapons and drug trafficking.
  • Authorize the President to provide assistance to African countries combating wildlife trafficking.
  • Expand regional law enforcement networks around wildife crime, called Wildlife Enforcement Networks, to help countries in Africa strengthen their coordination and intelligence-sharing around efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.
  • Strengthen the professionalization of law enforcement and wildlife rangers in partner countries fighting poachers and wildlife traffickers, and providing them with the equipment needed to give them an edge in the fight.

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