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Obama Tackles Illegal Wildlife Trade

Obama's plan will specifically address poaching of elephants and rhinos, though he has also reportedly begun conversations with China about curbing demand

Photo: Clive Reid

On Monday, President Obama announced a new initiative to try and curb the rampant wildlife poaching that has been escalating in recent years, the Washington Post reported. Obama’s plan will specifically address poaching of elephants and rhinos, he announced at a meeting on Monday in Tanzania. The Post gives the details:

Using his executive authority, Obama established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking composed of the State, Interior and Justice departments to devise a national strategy over the next six months. He also created an independent, eight-member advisory panel that will offer recommendations to the task force.

In addition, the State Department will provide $10 million in training and technical assistance to combat poaching in Africa. Three million dollars will go to South Africa, $3 million to Kenya and $4 million elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

Though the scope of the problem is much broader—spanning continents and impacting dozens of species—conservationists see this as an important step towards recognizing the gravity of illegal wildlife trade, and putting plans in motion to stop it. Global wildlife trade carries an estimated value of between $7 to $10 billion per year, and single rhino horn may fetch $30,000 per pound on the black market, the Post reports. Yet illegal wildlife trade is often treated as a secondary crime to drug or arms trafficking, with perpetrators escaping with a small fine or just a few weeks in jail. According to the Post, Obama has also reportedly begun talks with China about curbing market demand for these illegal products.

More from Smithsonian.com:

State Department Takes on Illegal Wildlife Trade 
Sloths Are Number One on the List of Illegally Traded Pets from Colombia 

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