13th June 2024

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IMO, WWF sink teeth into wildlife trafficking with global training effort

Standard Lesotho Bank launches groundbreaking M11 million cashback rewards for loyal customers footer
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Tulani Ngwenya

HAMBURG, Germany – For years, wildlife traffickers have exploited the vastness of the seas, smuggling everything from endangered rhinos to exotic birds. But a chorus of voices is rising in response. In a decisive move, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has launched a multi-pronged attack, working alongside the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to disrupt these illicit operations.

At a recent Facilitation Committee meeting, the IMO, with WWF’s active participation, secured the adoption of industry-wide guidelines. These detailed instructions provide a clear roadmap for combating wildlife smuggling on ships. This marks a turning point in the fight to protect vulnerable species and the delicate balance of ecosystems, as Brian Gonzales, representing WWF’s Asia Pacific Counter-Illegal Wildlife Hub and WWF Hong Kong, emphasised:

“Since 2000, we have been working with IMO, its member states, and other stakeholders to develop and adopt guidelines that combat the threats posed by illegal wildlife trade in the maritime sector. This collaboration has been vital in promoting collective action across both the public and private sectors.”

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The urgency is stark. Wildlife trafficking isn’t just an environmental crime; it’s a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise that fuels organised crime and jeopardises public health. Recognising this threat, the IMO is fostering a global alliance against these illicit actors.

The cornerstone of this alliance is a groundbreaking e-learning course titled “Introduction to Counter Wildlife Trafficking in Maritime Supply Chains.” Launching in June, this free online programme will equip maritime personnel—from captains to dockworkers—with the knowledge and skills to disrupt the smuggling pipeline.

“This course is a game-changer,” declared IMO Facilitation Committee Chair Watchara Chiemanukulkit. “It empowers individuals across the entire maritime industry to become active participants in protecting our planet’s precious wildlife.”

Co-developed by the IMO, WWF, and the World Maritime University, the course delves deep into the complexities of wildlife trafficking. Participants will learn to identify red flags, understand concealment methods used by traffickers, and play a vital role in stopping the illegal trade.

Professor Maximo Q. Meija, Jr., President of WMU, highlighted the course’s importance, noting that it addresses a pressing issue requiring immediate attention. By integrating this course into the IMO’s educational offerings, the organisation demonstrates a strong commitment to building a responsible maritime community dedicated to preventing illicit wildlife trade.

With these powerful new tools at their disposal, the maritime industry is poised to become a formidable force against wildlife trafficking. The IMO’s decisive action sends a clear message: the high seas are no longer a safe haven for these illicit activities. Cracks are forming in the smugglers’ route, and the tide is rising against them.

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