Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the Workshop to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trafficking, Bogor

Mr. Sony Partono, DG for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation; ladies and gentlemen

I am so pleased to welcome such a broad range of Government experts, representatives from non-governmental organizations, universities and other stakeholders to this workshop to develop an a joint Indonesia-US action plan to combat illegal wildlife trafficking!

There is growing awareness around the world about the threat of wildlife trafficking, which threatens border security, rule of law, public health, and our natural heritage.  So let me first thank all of you for being here to join in responding to that threat.

And respond we must.  Criminals involved in wildlife trafficking thrive in places where law enforcement lacks necessary resources, where corruption is systemic, and where capacities for detecting, prosecuting, and dismantling illicit networks are not adequately developed or otherwise lacking.

And criminals thrive because they derive substantial illegal profits from wildlife trafficking.  The illegal trade in wildlife products such as ivory and rhino horn is estimated to total between $7-10 billion annually.   And it continues to push protected and endangered species to the brink of extinction.

Increasingly, wildlife trafficking also is intertwined with other illicit activities that fuel organized crime and undermine national security and economic prosperity.  Organized criminal networks are attracted to wildlife trafficking for its profitability, comparatively small risk of detection and prosecution, and light fines and jail sentences.

And let us not forget that wildlife trafficking poses a public health risk.  Approximately 75% of recently emerging infectious diseases – such as SARS, avian influenza, and the Ebola virus – are of animal origin.  The illegal trade in live animals and their parts bypasses public health controls and thereby puts human populations at risk for transmission of highly infectious disease.

During my meetings around Indonesia, I have seen firsthand some of the important work being done to protect wildlife and combat wildlife crime.  Most recently I was in Manado last month when law enforcement authorities seized an illegal shipment of reptiles in the port and delivered it to the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center.

This experience underlined that this issue cannot be solved by any of us alone.  Combating wildlife trafficking requires collaborative actions and cooperation among governments as well as civil society, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

The United States coordinates wildlife conservation and enforcement efforts with other governments, international organizations and conventions, NGOs, and the private sector using a four pillar strategy:

  1. catalyzing political will and diplomatic outreach;
  2. engaging in public diplomacy and outreach;
  3. identifying training and technology needs; and
  4. building on existing partnerships and initiating new cooperation to improve enforcement capacity and reduce consumer demand.

To show the high priority the United States attaches to stopping wildlife trafficking, President Obama announced on February 11, 2014, the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

We joined Indonesia and many other countries and international organizations in signing the London Declaration on the Illegal Wildlife Trade later that week.

And on February 17, 2014,  in Jakarta, the U.S. and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding to Conserve Wildlife and Combat Wildlife Trafficking.

Over the last five years, the United States has invested more than $16 million to combat wildlife trafficking through the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network and Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) programs.

In addition, we have over $70 million available for tropical forest conservation projects under the “TFCA” program.  This enables Indonesia to preserve habitat that is critical to the survival of countless endangered species.

And USAID is working on a new $49 million project to improve conservation and protect key species by:

  1. instituting management plans for protected areas that support high concentrations of biodiversity and key threatened wildlife species;
  2. increasing the use of technology to monitor wildlife trafficking and encroachment into protected areas; and 3) improving enforcement of anti-poaching and wildlife trafficking regulations.

Last but certainly not least, this workshop will result in an Action Plan that will include activities and engagements to protect wildlife, reduce demand for wildlife and associated products, and combat wildlife crime.

The Action Plan will identify actions to be taken by Indonesian stakeholders, timelines for implementation, as well as provide a guide for international partner support.  Additionally, the workshop will result in a working group to monitor implementation of agreed upon activities.

Ultimately, the success of this Workshop depends on the participants.  I take heart in seeing the group gathered here this morning from our respective governments, civil society, international organizations, and experts from leading Indonesian universities.

Let me thank you in advance for giving this action plan your full efforts these next few days.  It can be a legacy for Indonesia’s natural environment.  A legacy to be proud of.  I’m proud to stand here with you today.  Thank you.

As prepared.