EU congratulates Myanmar on tackling illegal wildlife trade

02 March 2019
EU congratulates Myanmar on tackling illegal wildlife trade
A pile of elephant tusks are displayed during the destruction ceremony of confiscated elephant ivory and wildlife parts at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 04 October 2018. Photo: Hein Htet/EPA

The European Union (EU) has congratulated  Myanmar on tackling illegal wildlife trade in a statement to mark World Wildlife Day that falls on 3 March.

The following is their statement:

The European Union (EU) Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Myanmar:

Wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable criminal activities worldwide, with devastating effects for biodiversity and very damaging impact on sustainable development and poverty eradication.

On the occasion of World Wildlife Day on 3 March 2019, the Heads of Mission of the European Union (EU) and its Member States wish to congratulate the Government of Myanmar for the reinforced initiatives taken over the past year to protect the country's magnificent and endangered wildlife and biodiversity.

In May 2018, the Union Parliament passed the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law, which is one of the strongest wildlife protection laws in the region. On World Wildlife Day, the Government of Myanmar will publicly destroy seized ivory and wildlife parts. This is part of a series of events to destroy all stockpiles. The Yangon Regional Government has banned all illegal sales of wildlife in Yangon Region as of October 2018, and the Union Government has committed to roll this ban out nationwide. The Government has also increased public awareness campaigns and engagement on illegal wildlife trade issues through public campaigns, building on the Voices for Wildlife coalition, which is supported by several EU Member States. In October 2018, the UK hosted the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade where the Government of Myanmar detailed its achievements over the past year.

These steps are hugely commendable, however Myanmar still faces challenges. For example, elephant poaching for ivory and other parts is still a huge issue both globally and in Myanmar. Although the elephant skinning crisis in Myanmar has reduced, thanks, in part, to increased wildlife ranger patrols, Myanmar is still facing a struggle to protect its wild elephant population, and the populations of some of its other endangered species, such as the pangolin, tiger and turtles.

Therefore, we would also like to take this opportunity to state our support for further action by the Government of Myanmar to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. For example, we believe that it would have a positive impact if the Government of Myanmar could fast-track the nationwide ban on the illegal sale of wildlife parts, including in Myanmar’s border areas.

Other actions, such as effective enforcement of the ban on wildlife sales and tackling the illicit financial flows from illegal wildlife trade would reinforce the message that Myanmar has a zero tolerance approach to wildlife crime. As long as criminals continue to sell illegal wildlife products to satisfy consumer demand in China and elsewhere, Myanmar’s wildlife is at risk, and this trade will continue to fill the pockets of criminal gangs, and rob Myanmar of its beautiful and diverse wildlife.

Ending wildlife trafficking is a shared responsibility and we must all take concrete action. In 2016, the EU adopted an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking and since then the EU and its Member States have ramped up their actions for strengthening the EU’s role in the global fight against these illegal activities through greater enforcement of our comprehensive legal framework, better cooperation and more effective prevention. The next Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP18, Sri Lanka) – to which Myanmar acceded in 1997, and the EU became a party in 2015 – will allow us to turn our commitments into actions to address wildlife trafficking worldwide.