Engel Statement on Global Anti-Poaching Act

Engel Statement on Global Anti-Poaching Act


WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement following the Committee’s markup and approval of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (HR 2494):

“Poaching and wildlife trafficking in Africa and other regions are growing in scale and sophistication.  These crimes threaten the extinction of some of the world’s most iconic species.

“In 2014, more than 22,000 African elephants were slaughtered for their ivory.  That’s one elephant killed about every 20 minutes.   And more than 1,200 rhinos were killed last year in South Africa alone—out of a total population of less than 30,000.

“These are heartbreaking statistics.  But this problem isn’t just about the slaughter of these animals.  Wildlife trafficking is also a security challenge—both around the world and here at home. The criminal networks responsible for the killing and trafficking of endangered wildlife are often the same ones that engage in human, drug and weapons trafficking in Africa and other regions. Skyrocketing demand in Asia has sent prices for trafficked animal products through the roof.  And so rebel groups and terrorist organizations have also gotten into the act, hoping to seize on such a lucrative market.

“To ensure a safe future for our most beloved species, cut off this major source of revenue for bad actors, and promote regional stability, we need to provide the tools to stop poaching on the ground, prosecute those responsible, and treat wildlife trafficking as the serious crime that it is.

“The legislation the Committee approved today, of which I’m proud to be the lead Democratic sponsor, aims to do just that. It provides the authority for wildlife crimes to be prosecuted under existing U.S. money laundering and racketeering statutes.  That way, those we catch will face stiffer penalties and potential traffickers will know that we mean business. 

“The bill also supports the professionalization of wildlife law enforcement units on the ground and allows us to provide them non-lethal assistance.   It strengthens regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks designed to combat poaching.  And it includes a provision that requires the Secretary to ‘name and shame’ countries that fail to take meaningful action to stop wildlife trafficking.

“The Obama Administration has taken a number of important steps to address the poaching crisis, and this bipartisan legislation builds on those efforts.”