Washington, DC—In a big step forward for animals around the world, President Obama signed the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act into law. This bipartisan legislation was championed by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). A similar bill, the Global Anti-Poaching Act, led by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), passed the House of Representatives late last year and helped pave the way for the END Wildlife Trafficking Act.
The END Wildlife Trafficking Act is aimed at curbing the rampant illegal wildlife trade, which continues to decimate imperiled species, which face unprecedented threats from poachers. Elephants and rhinoceroses, in particular, are being killed in record numbers for their tusks and horns. These and other animals will likely be driven to extinction unless stronger action is taken to stop the slaughter.
Specifically, the END Wildlife Trafficking Act:
- facilitates partnerships between the US government and other countries fighting terrorist organizations and international crime syndicates that profit from wildlife trafficking;
- allows prosecutors to treat smuggling or selling endangered species as a predicate offense under money laundering statues;
- improves transparency and accountability by directing the US State Department to explicitly identify countries that are major sources, transit points, or consumers of trafficked wildlife products; and
- enhances national security while also benefiting animal welfare—from expanding law enforcement networks to providing targeted assistance via shared intelligence, equipment and training to fight poachers.
“As the passage of this bill shows, clamping down on poaching is not a partisan issue, said Joanna Grossman, federal policy advisor for the Animal Welfare Institute. “The bloody trade in wildlife parts has become one of the chief funding sources for terrorist groups and organized criminal syndicates around the globe. The END Wildlife Trafficking Act provides vital tools to protect our national security and save animals from extinction.”
Amey Owen, (202) 446-2128, firstname.lastname@example.org