Concordia International School Shanghai Model United Nations Eighth Annual Session

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1 Forum: Issue: Environment Commission Combating the illegal wildlife trade between East Africa and Southeast Asia Student Officer: ChaeEun Ko Position: Deputy Chair Introduction The illegal wildlife trade has become a serious issue that deserves the attention of the entire globe, as it is the 4 th most lucrative illegal economic activity in the world. Animals and their body parts are traded just as easily as drugs and weapons, and the demand for new products is quenched by the illegal poaching of animals. The two animals most widely recognized for being targeted by poaching are elephants and tigers. In 2011, more than 23 tons of ivory equivalent to 2,500 elephants were confiscated. Tigers, hunted for their skin and bones, are down to an estimated 3,890 in the wild around the world. It is important to note that wildlife trade itself is not illegal; many animals and plants are traded as pets, food, leather, and medicine. Wildlife trade becomes a problem when it is illegal and unsustainable. Caption #1: Data on the number of recorded transactions provided by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Definition of Key Terms East Africa The eastern part of Africa, namely the nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Research Report Page 1 of 5

2 Southeast Asia The region of Asia that is south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea, and north of Australia; includes Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Wildlife trade The buying and selling of wild animals and plants as well as products derived from them. Poaching The illegal hunting of animals often in areas that are officially protected is private property of an individual or corporation. Ranger A keeper of a park, forest, or area of countryside; in this context, refers to individuals protecting animals in their native habitats History Poaching first began in Europe in the 1700s when poor, landless people had little other way to procure food. Later in the 1880s, farmers were officially allowed to hunt small animals on their farms. In the United States, the Lacey Act (1990) illegalized the selling of a poached animal from one state to another for profit. As a form of agreement to protect wildlife, the United States, Great Britain, Mexico, Japan, and Russia implemented the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918) to protect migrating birds from being killed, hunted, exported, or sold for profit. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was established in the 1960s, serving as an international treaty to ensure that animals that are traded do not face threats against their lives. In 1973, the Endangered Species Act attempted to protect threatened and endangered species in their native habitats. In 1989, CITES imposed a global ivory ban to revitalize the decreasing population of elephants. Research Report Page 2 of 5

3 Concordia International School Shanghai Model United Nations Eighth Annual Session Caption #2: Skins of tigers and cats displayed in Vietnam Key Issues Strain on the Environment The overuse of nature inevitably leads to problems, most prominently the endangerment and extinction of species. Some poachers and traders purposely introduce invasive species to habitats so that they can prey on the indigenous species there. This allows the poachers to sell members of the endangered species for a higher price. Direct Impact on Humans Poaching is a key mean of survival for some households in poor areas. They heavily depend on wild animals and plants for food, fuel, medicine, and incomes. Banning wildlife trade outright can seriously impact their lives. In addition to this, the rangers protecting wildlife in national parks and wildlife reserves are also under threat. Over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the past 10 years in clashes with armed poachers. Major Parties Involved and Their Views Kenya In April 2016, the President of Kenya arranged the burning of more than 100 million USD s worth of ivory (the largest burn ever recorded) as a demonstration of his determination to end illegal wildlife trade. The Kenyan government has taken on a very stern yet modern approach to the problem by significantly using social media to illustrate its endorsement of protecting elephants. Kenya deems poaching a direct threat to the long-term economic development of Africa as a whole, despite the high demand in Asian consumers for the ivory. For openly and actively pursuing the mission of prohibiting poaching, Kenya certainly deserved to be regarded as a leading example for other governments to follow. Caption #3: A ranger at the ivory burning in Kenya Research Report Page 3 of 5

4 World Wildlife (WWF) WWF is an international organization that operates in 100 nations and is supported by approximately five million members around the world. It is a major organization that works both at local and global areas, having science as its basis for action. WWF works to help eliminate the illegal wildlife trade around the globe through mainly two ways: public education and supporting regulations. WWF collaborates with regional communities to combat poverty and help the locals manage wildlife in a sustainable way. WWF also runs the Stop Wildlife Crime campaign that strives to galvanized governments and individuals and raises awareness on the issue. Furthermore, WWF advises and provides information to CITES. Timeline of Relevant Resolutions, Treaties and Events Date Description of event The U.S. passes the Lacey Act (illegal to sell a poached animal between states for profit) The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implemented between the U.S., Great Britain, Mexico, Japan, and Russia (protect migrating birds) Endangered Species Act implemented 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) finally agreed 1989 Global ivory ban by CITES dead elephants found in a national park in Africa 2013 Approximately 2000 dead pangolins (rare mammal species) confiscated from a fishing boat going to China Evaluation of Previous Attempts to Resolve the Issue Although governments have attempted to combat this activity, the UN has only recently begun to address this issue. It was only in 2014 that the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) passed a resolution on the issue and in 2015 that the General Assembly did so too, recognizing the negative impact of illicit criminal networks on the world. More active and strict measures must be taken in comparison to previous attempts by both nations and organizations, namely the UN and WWF. Research Report Page 4 of 5

5 Possible Solutions Concordia International School Shanghai Model United Nations Eighth Annual Session It is probably unrealistic to completely eradicate all illegal wildlife trade in the world. But the international community is entitled to make attempts to stop it to the best of its ability. In order to do so, public awareness must be raised; with a unified, enlightened mindset, the consumers can greatly reduce the trade by simply decreasing product demand. Furthermore, governments may be convinced to tighten regulations illegal wildlife trade. International pressure, coming from an international mindset to preserve the ecosystems, may facilitate the governments to do so. An effective system to detect international illegal networks must be devised, and rangers must be well trained and armed accordingly. Corruption and poor judicial systems, prevalent particularly in many LEDCs, must be addressed in solving the issue. Bibliography Zorba, Shereen. First UN Resolution on Wildlife Trafficking Historic Step Forward, Chief of UN Environment Programme Says. United Nations Environment Programme, 31 July Web. 20 Nov < Dymoke, Alex. "Kenya Stages Largest Ivory Burn in History in Call to End Illegal Wildlife Trade." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 30 Apr Web. 20 Nov < Good, Kate. 10 Shocking Facts about How the Illegal Wildlife Trade Drives Species Extinction. One Green Planet, 30 Dec Web. 20 Nov < >. Threats: Illegal Wildlife Trade. WorldWildlife. Web. 20 Nov < Timeline: A history of poaching and protecting wildlife. University of Oregon. Web. 20 Nov < What is CITES? Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Web. 20 Nov < Research Report Page 5 of 5

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