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UNESCO, CITES and UNEP Draw Spotlight on the Need to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

unesco-unep-cites6 May 2013: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Chinese actress, Li Bingbing, have recently undertaken activities to address wildlife crime and highlight the gravity of its impacts.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO, has expressed concern over poaching, armed violence and destruction in the Central African Republic's Dzanga-Sanga National Park, which is on the agency's World Heritage List. The park is part of the Sangha Trinational Site situated in the north-western Congo Basin, where Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Congo meet, and encompasses three contiguous national parks totaling around 750,000 hectares. Lowland gorillas and forest elephants are two unique species living within the park. The site was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List last year. Regarding the recent spike in poaching, CITES Secretary General noted that, "This imminent threat to elephants in a remote and relatively well protected area is of grave concern" and called on the international community to join forces and take coordinated action.

Bokova called on the Republic of Congo and the Republic of Cameroon, which share the World Heritage site with the Central African Republic to address poaching and ensure the protection of the park. Many World Heritage properties in Central Africa have recently reported a significant decrease in their elephant and other large mammal populations.

John Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General, met with Brazil High Court Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), and addressed its Steering Committee on the upward trends in wildlife crime. He asked WCEL to consider the inclusion of CITES issues into their existing and future programmes, especially as they relate to working with legislators, prosecutors and the judiciary, as well as through academic research and capacity building. Scanlon also addressed the International colloquium on the 'UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and biodiversity: Assessing the future we want.' In the chamber of the Brazilian Senate, he discussed the outcomes of the sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) to CITES.

Finally, film actress Li Bingbing, one of China's most popular celebrities, in her capacity as a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, has urged greater effort by governments and consumers to combat illegal wildlife trade during a fact-finding mission to Kenya. [UN Press Release] [CITES Press Release on meeting with IUCN] [CITES Press Release on Dzanga-Sanga National Park] [UNEP Press Release]