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UK Wildlife Crime Unit Launched

16 years ago
4599 views

Posted
23rd October, 2006 00h00


A new unit has been set up in the UK to combat wildlife crime, including trade in endangered species, habitat destruction and poaching. Initial priorities of the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) include enforcing the protection of the hen harrier (marsh hawk, or northern harrier), preventing the arrival of avian influenza (bird flu), stopping the organised trade in illegal caviar and targeting wildlife crime on the internet. The unit will tackle crimes ranging from individual collectors illegally taking the eggs of protected birds from their nests, to organised international trade in illegal items such as rhino horns and leopard skins. It is estimated that illegal trade is worth as much as 70% of legal trade, which is a multi-billion pound industry. UK Customs figures show that since 2005 over 500 seizures have been made, which included nearly 8000 live animals. The inauguration of the NWCU was welcomed by wildlife charities. To coincide with the launch, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) released data showing the extent of the persecution of Britain’s endangered birds. It lists over 1100 incidents since 1995, over 100 each year on average, which severely hinder attempts to help the recovery of endangered species, including the hen harrier, golden eagle and red kite.

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