On Thursday, December 10th, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen America’s role in fighting the illegal wildlife trade. The aptly named Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act (S. 2385) is the third wildlife trafficking bill to be introduced in this session of Congress, following the Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act (S. 27) and the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494), which passed the House in early November.
The illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $10 billion annually and is one of the largest illicit global markets on par with drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. This trade has decimated populations of some of the most critically endangered animals on this planet, including tigers, elephants, and rhinos. As the second largest consumer of illegal ivory (behind China), the United States plays a major role in the illegal wildlife trade. Illegal wildlife trafficking affects more than just endangered species, as it has become a key component of funding terrorist organizations across Africa and Asia, undermining U.S. global security interests and impeding sustainable development of impoverished countries.
Senator Jeff Flake with an orphaned elephant in Kenya.
The END Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act aims to protect endangered species susceptible to the illegal wildlife trade by establishing country-specific anti-poaching programs, improving wildlife law enforcement capacity, implementing demand reduction agreements with key countries, and supporting the development of community-based conservation.
Our colleagues at the National Wildlife Refuge Association, together with the Kenyan non-profit Tsavo Trust, provided key recommendations for language within the bill to ensure its implementation would result in effective conservation actions.
As the global poaching crisis rages on, it is encouraging to see our government working together to address the illegal wildlife trade. The END Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act will enable the United States to provide key tools and resources to countries around the world that are critical to eliminating illegal wildlife trafficking.
You can take action today by urging your Senators to support the END Wildlife Trafficking Act!