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SOS Rhino : In the News : Plans to get tough on illegal wildlife trafficking

Plans to get tough on illegal wildlife trafficking


Jun 19 2003
By The Journal

Harsher penalties for wildlife trade offences, such as trafficking in rare animal skins and horns, are being pushed up the agenda in a Government amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.

Defra Minister Elliot Morley said the Government is taking urgent action following overwhelming support for increases in penalties outlined in the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 (COTES) consultation paper which was issued in January.

The new penalties will apply to certain offences, including trading in the highly lucrative "shatoosh" shawls, made from fine hair of slaughtered Tibetan antelope, and illegal in this country.

The shawls can retail for up to £15,000, while black market rhino horn can fetch up to £30,000 per kilo.

Other species, traditionally used for medical properties in East Asia and across the world including the UK, such as tigers, bears, and some plants, will also be subject to the controls.

The proposals include increasing the penalty for people found guilty of illegally trading in endangered species from two to five years imprisonment, and making those offences arrestable.

" I firmly believe that we must address the illegal trade in endangered species as a matter of urgency," said Mr Morley yesterday.

" Only then can we ensure that those wildlife criminals who cynically exploit our world's most endangered species, with no regard for the consequences of their actions, are properly punished.

" It is my belief that a five-year prison sentence will also act as a significant deterrent."

Offences which attract a five-year prison sentence are automatically arrestable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The new clause will introduce similar provisions in Scotland.

A separate announcement will be made later about the other issues which have been covered by the COTES review.

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