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Illegal deforestation, animal poaching and the shipping of toxic waste are all environmental crimes that cost the world billions of dollars each year, the UN recently reported. In order to promote greater cooperation between the police and environmental officials and stem such crimes, 500 law enforcement and environmental experts from around the world are meeting for the International Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference in Nairobi this week. Interpol and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) have also teamed up to find solutions that will arrest lucrative environmental crimes that are destroying our planet.

International Fund for Animal Welfare, environmental crime, syndicated crime networks, Achim Steiner, UN Environmental Program Executive Director, United Nations Environmental Program, Illegal deforestation, animal poaching, shipment of toxic waste, law enforcement and environmental experts cooperate,Image by rubyblossom

UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner revealed just how serious environmental crimes have become.
“This is a global phenomenon,” he said. “This is a global market place. These are global syndicates, criminals that are engaging in this trade.” To deal with the “rapidly escalating environmental crime wave,” as he puts it, would also require a global taskforce with the resources to tackle such tightly interwoven organizations.

Elephant poaching continues to be a serious problem that is fueled by the demand for elephant ivory from China’s rising middle class. On top of the estimated 17,000 elephants that were illegally killed in Africa during 2011, customs officials in China recently busted two smuggling rings responsible for trafficking nearly $100 million worth of elephant ivory.

Azzedine Downes, president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said there is hope to stop poaching. “If range state countries are willing to commit to enforcement that works across national boundaries,” he said, “our supporters in non-range states are willing to step up and help fund those efforts.”

Apart from increasing public awareness that ivory results in dead elephants, some countries such as Kenya are considering wildlife conservation bills that greatly increases penalties for poachers and traffickers. Countries where poaching and other environmental crimes occur often lack the resources to investigate properly, a problem the Nairobi meeting hopes to solve by increasing law enforcement capacity.

Via ABC News