MP launches Commons debate on illegal animal trading

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A DEBATE on doing more to prevent the illegal trade in products such as ivory was opened by one of the area’s MPs last week.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, opening a debate on Thursday in the House of Commons, said international wildlife crime was now the third most lucrative criminal activity after narcotics and human trafficking – worth $19bn a year.

The poaching of endangered species for parts such as horns, tusks and hides was, he said, ‘not just bad news for the animals themselves: it also has a devastating impact on communities;.

He said: “It breaks down sustainable development opportunities such as animal-related tourism, and it leaves communities at the mercy of criminal gangs. The impact of poaching can be as damaging to fragile communities as disease.”

The MP also told the House of Commons the ‘blood ivory’ trade was funding some of the world’s most serious criminal activity.

He added: “Al-Shabaab, whose attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi led to the death of 62 people, may have funded that operation with illegally-obtained ivory sold on the black market to buy arms.”

The commons debate followed a recent visit by Mr Herbert to the Born Free Foundation in Horsham.

Founded 30 years ago by actors Virginia McKenna OBE and Bill Travers, stars of Born Free, the Fofndation is now run by their son Will Travers OBE.