By Northern Gwinnett News
On the occasion of World Wildlife Day this Wednesday, the NGOs TRAFFIC and WWF publish a report warning about the legal and illegal trade in these specimens. The latter represents a market of several billion euros.
“Live animals and plants, but also their parts and products, are traded around the world for the consumption of food, the production of medicines or cosmetic products, leather goods or for the manufacture of materials, musical instruments or souvenirs.” Therefore, the message of this report is very clear: In 2021, illegal trade continues to threaten too many species of wildlife. France, which is one of the main European economic players, must make efforts to combat this scourge.
France, European engine
If aid workers ask France to “be a driving force” in the fight against wildlife trafficking, it is because the country is a major player in the European Union, with millions of species passing each year to and from France.
Between 2008 and 2017, more than 28 million specimens were imported into France, mainly reptiles, corals, plants and leeches. This makes France one of the top three wildlife importing states in Europe.
It is also one of the main EU member states that has reported seizures in recent years.
The country, a key player in legal trade
In 1978, France acceded to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It therefore has “a responsibility to ensure that the wildlife trade is sustainable, legal and traceable,” say TRAFFIC and WWF. It must be said that “the country is a pole of trade in wild species, due to the importance of certain large industries that use wild species in its territory, and because of its central geographical position.”
The 12 overseas territories, scattered from the subarctic to the Antarctic, passing through the tropics of the three great oceans, make France the country of origin of many species. So between 2008 and 2017, 45 million specimens were exported directly from France or had France as their country of origin.
There is still a lot of traffic
If France plays a central role in the legal trade, it is still too involved in trafficking. Between 2008 and 2017, more than 2 million specimens were seized, including mammals (live and their bodies, parts or derivatives), birds (both alive and their bodies, parts or derivatives) and live reptiles.
However, “the illegal and unsustainable trade in wild plants and animals contributes to the loss of biodiversity,” laments Katalin Kecse-Nagy, director of TRAFFIC’s Europe program. That is why “France must make additional efforts to put an end to this cross-border trade.”
French airports, seizure locations
NGOs draw attention to the risk that exists with airports, the main seizure sites in France. Between 2008 and 2017, there were 813 seizure records involving 113,615 specimens and an additional 4,359 kg. “The Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport is identified as the main French airport where these seizures took place, which involved elephant ivory and the bodies, parts and products of reptiles,” the report said.
For these reasons, TRAFFIC and WWF ask France to assume its responsibilities in the fight against crime related to wildlife. “In particular, it can strengthen the coordination between the competent authorities and the application of the laws in its territory”, Judge Katalin Kecse-Nagy.
Carry out additional research to better understand the scope of the phenomenon, dedicate additional resources to fighting traffic, especially at airports, or even push for renewal of EU member states’ commitments.
Furthermore, concludes the TRAFFIC spokesperson, “citizens also have the power to act by guiding their choices towards wildlife species / products of legal and sustainable origin.”
The number of kilos of raw ivory seized in France between 2009 and 2017.