Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) whether involving ivory, rhino horn, tiger bones or animals captured for the exotic pet market has been steadily increasing in recent years and it usually poses a significant threat to the survival of many species globally. Currently, this is an urgent issue of concern both in Asian and African range states where most of these endangered species have their habitat.
However, much of the demand for IWT products is in Asia, especially in China. China is a country of immense territory, sharing extensive boundaries with several other countries; which creates significant complexities for investigating and tackling IWT.
IUCN conducted a two day inception meeting in Wuhan, China from the 28th - 29th of November 2018 for purposes of wildlife crime case collection in China including Hong Kong. The target audience was primarily legal experts and researchers drawn from civil society organisations and universities involved in illegal wildlife trade initiatives. The main partner organisations who participated in the meeting from China including Hong Kong were Wuhan University (Research Institute of Environmental Law), Wildlife Conservation Society, Natural Resources Defence Council China Program and ADM Capital Foundation. The main agenda of the meeting was to inter alia:
- Agree on a strategy for collecting and analysing wildlife crime cases from courts in China including Hong Kong.
- Elaborate the methodology for collecting and analyzing wildlife crime cases using IUCN’s case collection template and matrix.
- Agree on a timeline for the completion of the project.
- Promote the use of WILDLEX, which is an information service on wildlife related law operated by IUCN.
- Engage with wildlife crime legal researchers from Wuhan University and other partners from Hong Kong.
During the course of the meeting IUCN connected with and actively engaged with the partner organizations from China including Hong Kong and got to learn more about the kind of IWT initiatives that they are involved in including inter alia:
- Policy analysis and advocacy; to reform law and policies to better preserve key species and biodiversity;
- Capacity building for enforcement engagement in hotspots for IWT; to strengthen compliance and enforcement of international treaties, national laws and regulations; and
- Public legal awareness education; to expand capacities in public engagement and legal compliance.