Today, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2494, the END Wildlife Trafficking Act.
President Obama, who has expressed a commitment throughout his presidency to protecting wildlife, had this to say about the poaching crisis earlier this year:
"There’s no question: we need to take urgent action to save one of the planet’s most majestic species and address the security threat posed by insurgency groups and dangerous criminal networks whose trade in ivory and other resources funds their activities."
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by unanimous consent to pass the bill. The bipartisan legislation, designed to combat the growing wildlife trafficking crisis, also passed the Senate unanimously the week prior.
Founding Co-Chair of the International Conservation Caucus (ICC) and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman Ed Royce, is an original sponsor of the bill alongside Ranking Member and fellow ICC member Eliot Engel. ICC members Senator Chris Coons and Senator Jeff Flake led efforts in the Senate, introducing companion legislation then incorporated into the final version of the bill.
Senator Jeff Flake has identified the need to address the wildlife trafficking crisis as “something on which we can all agree,” as evidenced by the unanimous support of both houses. This growing crisis has truly reached unprecedented levels in response to an increasing black market demand for ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products, funds from which are increasingly supporting organized criminal syndicates and terrorist groups.
Chairman Royce said of H.R. 2494, “Cracking down on poaching and wildlife trafficking will not only help protect some of the world’s most majestic animals, it will strengthen U.S. national security . . . We can’t afford to let gangs and terrorists continue to slaughter some of the world’s most iconic species.”
Senator Chris Coons called passage of the END Wildlife Trafficking Act “a critical step forward in tackling the rapidly growing crisis of wildlife trafficking.”
The Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt “END” Wildlife Trafficking Act supports an interagency approach, seeking to disrupt the ability of terrorists and criminal syndicates to profit from wildlife trafficking. Specifically, the bill requires the Secretary of State to identify countries as sources, transit points, or end markets for illegal wildlife products and to designate countries complicit in these activities. Additionally, this legislation will make wildlife trafficking a predicate offense for money laundering, will direct the President to continue security assistance for counter-trafficking efforts, and will direct the President’s Task Force on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking to coordinate efforts between U.S. government agencies and with U.S. missions abroad. For a section-by-section summary of H.R. 2494, please click HERE.