Governments gathering last week for a meeting of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime have recognized environmental crime, such as illicit trafficking in wildlife, as a new form of transnational organized crime in need of a greater response (link).
At the same time, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore and TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia are calling for the Singapore public to make a pledge on WWF Singapore’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/wwfsg) and website (www.wwf.sg) not to purchase or consume illegal wildlife products.
These actions are important and are in response to the poaching of endangered species such as rhino and tiger as well as elephants. While Asia is the largest market for products from the illicit trafficking in wildlife, you don’t have to go far from your own home to find products of questionable pedigree. Walk down Fifth Avenue in New York and you will find many shops with ivory carvings both for sale and on sale! I made the composite above with an iphone image of a Fifth Avenue shop and a Tsavo elephant photographed last year. I hoped I would have to look hard for storefront ivory in my hometown. I found it on the first block. While I haven’t made an official survey, I fear that this is all too common and much of the ivory has been sourced from the illegal trade.
Sign these pledges and applaud the increased attention these organizations are leveling on this global crisis. But don’t ignore what is in your own backyard. Many merchants will claim that their ivory products are “antique” or produced before the 1989 ban on ivory trade. Don’t buy it.