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Illegal wildlife trafficking is an international crisis. An unprecedented global demand for exotic wildlife and products has triggered an industrial-scale killing spree of endangered and often iconic species, including elephants, rhinos, tigers, lions, and many others.
Populations of endangered species have plummeted over the past decade, yet illegal trade shows no indication of slowing down. A recent World Wildlife Fund report shows that we have already lost 58% of endangered wildlife in the past four decades; and by 2020, we may lose two-thirds. Paul G. Allen’s Great Elephant Census highlights the need to urgently address the illegal trade of elephant ivory, as African savanna elephant populations are down 30% in the last seven years.
As one of the largest consumer markets in the world, the United States is helping to drive demand for illegal wildlife products around the globe. Wildlife experts are in consensus that if we don’t act quickly, trafficking will wipe out many endangered species in our lifetime. But most importantly, we must act together.
In February 2014, the White House released the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking to stop the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products in the United States. As part of this national strategy, President Obama called for a collaborative effort with foreign governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to reduce supply and demand of illegal wildlife products and materials.
As a result, the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance was established in July 2015 as a unique public-private collaboration to combat the illegal wildlife trade in the United States. Since its formation, the Alliance has made enormous progress in building an effective coalition to tackle the epidemic. Over 30 of the nation’s leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have joined our efforts, and more than 20 major U.S. companies and associations have partnered to combat wildlife trafficking in a variety of industries.
In early 2018, the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) joined forces in a united effort to combat wildlife trafficking around the world. USWTA is now a program of AZA, working in partnership with AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across the globe.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society are working with the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (USWTA) to help combat wildlife trafficking and protect endangered species from illegal trade. The USWTA is a coalition of leading nonprofit organizations and companies that are working together to combat wildlife trafficking by: raising public awareness; reducing consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products; and mobilizing companies to adopt best practices and help close off wildlife traffickers’ supply chains.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Future for Wildlife program works with multiple conservation partners to address illegal wildlife trade by:
Because consumer demand for animal products is fueling the illegal trade, the killings will continue as long as there is demand in the U.S. and in other major markets. In a very real way, consumers hold the key to ending trafficking and helping to save the world’s most iconic species for the benefit of generations to come. Visit uswta.org/BuyInformed to learn how you can learn how to be an informed consumer.
About the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance
USWTA is a coalition of corporate and non-profit member organizations all working together to combat wildlife trafficking by raising public awareness, reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products, and mobilizing companies in a variety of sectors to adopt best practices to stop wildlife trafficking. To learn more, visit www.uswta.org.
About the Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.
Information for this blog was provided by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.