International Wildlife Crime Debate

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    Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con):

    I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick

    Herbert) and others, including the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Joan Walley), on

    securing this very important debate. It is a privilege to follow my hon. Friend the Member for

    Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith). If only I had his oratorical skills to get my passion across:the passion is in there, burning, but I just cannot always get it out.

    I am delighted to see my right hon. Friend the Minister for Government Policy. That showsjust how seriously this Government are taking this important issue, which matters to so many

    thousands of people in this country.

    I am delighted that the Government will host this important conference and I hope that areally good declaration will come out of itperhaps something along the lines of the

    Marrakesh declaration, which was a 10-step action plan launched by the African

    Development Bank in May 2013.

    Yesterday, the Government published a document on their commitment to action on the

    illegal wildlife trade. I echo the sentiments of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North on

    the funding for the national wildlife crime unit. That is a good step, but in order to achieve

    some continuity the funding has to have a bit more longevity.

    Members have spoken passionately about the ivory tradeit is a real issuebut I want to

    highlight briefly some lesser known, but equally important, areas of wildlife crime. Vultures

    in southern Africa are on the brink of extinction because of the use of carbofuran, a poison

    that poachers use when they have slaughtered an elephant or rhino in order to expressly kill

    vultures whose presence gives away their crime.

    Most birds around the world are threatened by the use of illegal poisons, as well as by

    shooting, and we should remember that this country also has a problem with wildlife crime

    against raptors. In particular, I make no apology for reminding the House about the fate of the

    hen harrier in our own uplands. Last year, the Law Commission recognised that the liability

    for bird of prey persecution needs to be extended, through a legal concept known as vicarious

    liability, to landowners who allow their gamekeepers to use illegal techniques. I hope our

    Government are at least looking carefully at that recommendation. Bird of prey persecution is

    a serious organised crime and I think that the responsibility for leading the enforcement

    responses should lie with the National Crime Agency, with the national wildlife crime unit

    providing intelligence support.

    I want to draw the Houses attention to the poaching of saiga antelopes for their horns. Saiga

    antelopes are unusual and rather enigmatic creatures. For those who do not know what they

    are, they look like antelopes with huge swollen snouts, and only the males grow horns. After

    the ban on rhino horn in 1993, saiga horn became a substitute in traditional Chinese

    medicine, and their numbers in their native central Asian steppes declined alarminglydown

    by 95% by 2000. There has since been a slight increase in their numbers, but they need

    protection as they again face pressure from poaching. We all know about the threat to the

    tiger population, and that iconic species is pretty near the top of my priorities, but we have to

    remember the less glamorous but no less important species throughout the world.

    http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/John-Randall/209http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/John-Randall/209http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/John-Randall/209
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    I look forward to hearing from the conference not just warm words, but real actionworldwide, so that wildlife crimeas we have heard, it is linked to terrorism and organised

    crime, so it is an important and serious area of crimecan be thwarted and future generations

    can enjoy sharing the planet with rhinos, elephants, tigers, hen harriers and even my old

    friends the saiga antelopes.

    One of the things I wanted to do when I entered the House was to speak up for wildlife. I

    have been lucky enough to go round Britain and the world to see such animals, and I want to

    make sure that other people and future generations can enjoy also them.

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