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It’s Past Time to Get Serious About Wildlife Crime

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The evil of the criminal wildlife trade is shown in a bold minute-long animated commercial. The message is also one that hunters support.

With World Wildlife Day this month, conservation organization CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) released an ominously compelling animated Public Service Announcement.

Its message is critical: It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime.

It’s an excellent piece of work, with a dark and foreboding style of animation that is perfect for the message of wildlife in crisis.

CITES reports that “organized crime is impacting the world’s forests and animals” on a scale not seen before. “Criminal networks are generating massive illicit profits at the expense of these fauna and flora and harming the people who depend on them.”

What is CITES? In a nutshell, CITES is a mutually binding agreement between participating countries promising that they will follow provisions adopted in the Convention of 1973 and 1975 concerning international conservation of endangered species.

CITES distinguishes between illegal poaching and legal and ethical hunting. It recognizes the positive role that hunters and hunting have in effectively addressing certain aspects of the issue.

Secretary-General of CITES, John E. Scanlon, has said,

And you, the hunting community, can also assist us with our efforts to address illegal trade – efforts which will ultimately be in your own best interests. Hunters are ideally placed to see, or learn of, crimes directed at game species. I reach out to you and your representative organizations, such as CIC, to support anti-poaching efforts and wildlife law enforcement. And I respectfully urge you to do everything you can to make clear that poachers and unscrupulous traders or outfitters have no place among the genuine hunting community.

The entirety of Scanlon’s speech is worth reading, as it presents a vision that sport hunters are embracing with growing vigor and public visibility: that of the leading force in wildlife and game conservation. Hunters have been the point of the spear, so to speak, in conservation for the last century. But until the last decade or so, hunters have not widely publicized or promoted that fact on a global level.

Now is the time for hunting to become more than the driving force for funding conservation. Hunting organizations and individual hunters are becoming even more active and visible in combatting the illegal wildlife trade, by becoming directly involved in policy, funding, political activism and support.

We, as the hunting community, have a great opportunity in the coming years to show just how serious we are about wildlife crime, on a global level. More commercials like this one, but with ethical sport hunting as a component, would be welcome.

Share this article and video with your hunting friends and clubs. Help raise awareness of the growing danger of the global illicit wildlife criminal enterprise. We are hunters; if we don’t take care of our wildlife and forests, who will?

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It’s Past Time to Get Serious About Wildlife Crime