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UN resolution against wildlife trafficking

July 30, 2015

The United Nations General Assembly has approved plans to combat smuggling of wild animals around the world. The resolution is not legally binding, but reflects global opposition to wildlife poaching.

Image: Getty Images

On Thursday, 193 members of the General Assembly adopted the resolution, which was sponsored by Germany and Gabon and supported by 70 other UN member nations. It urged all countries "to take decisive steps at the national level to prevent, combat and eradicate the illegal trade in wildlife."

Germany's ambassador to the UN, Harald Braun told reporters: "I think like most people in the world, we are outraged at what happened to this poor lion." Braun was referring to the killing of a beloved protected lion named Cecil by a US-based dentist in Zimbabwe.

Gabon's foreign minister, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, called the resolution "a historic step" that was realized after over two years of discussions.

The text is the UN's first independent document on wildlife and recognizes that wildlife crime not only depletes biodiversity, but also fosters international crime. Illicit wildlife trade also has a bad impact on the development of local communities.

The new resolution is to focus on both the demand and supply sides of wildlife smuggling. Countries have been urged to target poachers and develop alternate means of living for communities living off hunting. Nations selling wildlife products have been requested to improve laws and educate people to reduce demands.

The UN plan targets poachers of Rhino horn and ivory. The killing of rhinos and elephants has reached drastic levels and is threatening the species into global extinction in some cases. Rhino horn is in great demand in Asia, where people use it to boost sexual potency. It is also used to treat cancer and other illnesses.

Around 30,000 elephants are killed every year by hunters wanting to smuggle ivory, the World Wildlife Fund says.

mg/kms (dpa, AP)