Fighting illegal trade

New alliances in the fight against poaching

BMZ and Environment Ministry join forces in a bid to curb illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn

Elephants at a water hole in the Khaudum National Park, Namibia

01.06.2015 |

The BMZ has set up an innovative fund to be used to fight poaching: the aim is to tackle the problem of poaching along the entire illegal trading chain, with interventions in both the African countries of origin and transit and in the mainly Asian consumer countries. Such actions are needed because poachers kill more than 20,000 elephants in Africa each year. The situation in the case of rhinos is similarly dramatic. But poaching is not just a problem for those striving to protect endangered species; it also has serious implications for the economic foundations and for the security of the African countries concerned.

Development Minister Gerd Müller: "In South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, poaching and the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn are now firmly in the hands of organised criminals. It is not just biodiversity that suffers when wild animals are mindlessly slaughtered by lawless individuals; the human population is also in danger. People who get in the way of the poachers must fear for their lives. And, if the herds of elephant and rhino start shrinking, then that will soon mean fewer tourists and the loss of an important source of income for many of these countries."

The BMZ welcomes the 2.5 million euros that the Federal Ministry for the Environment has now contributed to the new fund and is very pleased that both ministries are tackling the problem of poaching together. This means that more than six million euros altogether is now available. At the same time, the strategic cooperation of the two ministries gives the German government greater clout in addressing this important issue.

The BMZ has also sought out new partners in the fight against poaching and the illegal trade in products made from protected species. For example, the Ministry is cooperating with Alibaba, the Chinese-based internet company, which is the biggest online trader in the world, with some 300 million customers worldwide. Alibaba uses filters to find and delete such prohibited goods, and is also assisting the authorities investigating the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn, most of which is conducted online.

In Asia there has been a huge surge in demand for ivory and rhino horn just recently, which has caused a further considerable leap in poaching activities. The economic upswing in China, Thailand and Viet Nam made these countries the biggest market for ivory and rhino horn.

In order to cut the supply from Africa and put an end to the activities of the poachers, the project is counting on increased surveillance and better management in the vast nature reserves. The BMZ is working closely here with other German ministries and with non-governmental organisations such as the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the WWF and TRAFFIC. In the Asian consumer countries, meanwhile, targeted support is being provided for initiatives to change consumer behaviour and raise awareness.

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