Poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking are reaching unprecedented levels, threatening the long-term survival of populations of numerous keystone species, including the African elephant, rhinos, tigers and pangolins. Tens of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory, and rhinos are poached for their horns to near extinction. The growing decline in wildlife populations will have long-term negative impacts on local communities because they will be deprived of future livelihood options, and have fewer opportunities to gain from tourism revenue. Read more+
Poaching is driven by a rising demand for illegal wildlife products, especially from the rapidly growing economies of Asia and South East Asia. The value of illegal trade has been estimated at between US$5-$20 billion per year. Profits obtained from illegal wildlife trade have found their way into the hands of criminal gangs and violent insurgent groups. While demand plays a key role in fueling the slaughter of animals at industrial scales, on the ground poaching is also the result of poverty, inadequate enforcement and political instability.
Affected countries are now taking major steps to stem the crisis. Target 12 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets states that “by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.”
What We Do
In June 2015, in response to this growing crisis and to the international call for action, the GEF launched the flagship “Global Partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development” program. A US$90 million grant from the GEF is helping to mobilize an additional US$513 million from a wide range of partners, including the governments of participating countries, GEF Agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, the private sector and civil society.
The program aims at stopping poaching, trafficking and demand for wildlife and wildlife products illegally traded between Africa and Asia. It is a comprehensive effort to protect threatened species and their habitats, with a suite of investments to address the problems and look for short- and long-term solutions in the source, transit and demand countries. Read more+
In source countries, activities will include enhancing anti-poaching tracking and intelligence operations; increasing the size of conservation areas and improving their management; encouraging land-use planning; and providing opportunities for development through nature-based tourism and other agriculture, forestry and natural resource projects that benefit local communities.
In demand countries, activities will include targeted awareness raising among end-users across the world; increasing legal deterrents for purchase; and improving awareness of the general public.
In transit states, the program will support anti-smuggling and customs controls; use of DNA markers; tracking known shipments of illegal wildlife products to identify the source of wildlife; mapping and identifying criminal organizations; and strengthening efforts against corruption at all levels.
This GEF-sponsored program is the largest single investment to tackle the current wildlife crisis. It will complement investments by other international donors in response to numerous declarations and pledges made at a series of international conferences that started with the African Elephant Summit in Botswana in 2013.
The objective of the Global Wildlife Program is to reduce poaching and illegal trade of threatened species, as well as to protect their natural habitats. Ultimately, the program aims to stabilize or increase the number of, and area occupied by, elephant, rhino and big cat (i.e. lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs) populations at program sites. Country-based projects will strengthen opportunities for local communities to benefit from healthy wildlife, not least in terms of tourism. All in all, the program will help put millions of hectares under sustainable land management.