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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Wildlife Trafficking


Natural resources worldwide are under pressure. By working with other governments, organizations, and people around the world, the United States can meet global conservation challenges. One of these is the multi-billion dollar per year illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts.

The illegal trade in wildlife – or wildlife trafficking – continues to push some protected and endangered species to the brink of extinction. Wildlife trafficking threatens security and the rule of law, undermines conservation efforts, robs local communities of their economic base, and contributes to the emergence and spread of disease.

Wildlife trafficking is fueled by unchecked demand for exotic pets, rare foods, trophies, and “traditional” medicines. The slaughter to meet this demand is threatening wild populations of tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, exotic birds, and many other species. Wildlife trafficking can also pose a public health risk. Approximately 75% of recently emerging infectious diseases – such as avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) – are of animal origin. The illegal trade in live animals and their parts bypasses public health controls and puts human populations at risk for disease.

To confront the growing threats to global wildlife from poaching and illegal trade in wildlife, the State Department created the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT). This coalition aims to bring the public and private sectors together to accomplish three goals: improving wildlife enforcement, reducing consumer demand, and catalyzing high-level political will to fight illegal trade in wildlife.

The Coalition complements and reinforces existing national, regional, and international efforts to combat illegal traffic in wildlife. William Wijnstekers, former Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), expressed his support for the Coalition in September 2008 with these words: "The CITES Secretariat is pleased to be associated with the efforts by the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) to gain such attention and priority. The international multi-government and multi-organization CAWT partnership is a welcome addition to our ongoing battle against wildlife criminals."

Since 2005, the United States has worked with partner governments, key international organizations and conventions, and a broad range of NGO partners to help establish regional wildlife enforcement networks (WENs). WENs are agreements among governments to coordinate and collaborate the efforts of wildlife authorities, law enforcement, and customs and border officials to fight wildlife trafficking. Current WENs include those in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central America.

For further information see the CAWT internet site: http://www.cawtglobal.org/cawt/public/


-02/13/14  London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-02/06/14  Togolese Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking;  Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki; Washington, DC
-01/06/14  China Destroys Illegal Wildlife Products;  Deputy Department Spokesperson Marie Harf, Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-11/15/13   Ivory Crush Event
-12/04/12  Remarks at the Wildlife Conservation Day Reception;  Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert D. Hormats; Remarks as Prepared for Delivery; Beijing, China
-12/03/12  Video Remarks for Wildlife Conservation Day;  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Washington, DC
-11/08/12  Remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking;  Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert D. Hormats; Benjamin Franklin Room; Washington, DC
-11/08/12  Remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking;  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Benjamin Franklin Room; Washington, DC
-11/08/12  U.S. Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking and Promote Conservation; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-11/08/12  United States Advances Antarctic Marine Protection Proposal; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC

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