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Emirates Wildlife Society And Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi Enable UAE To Stamp Out Illegal Wildlife Trade

EWS- WWF completes CITES training programme to aid customs officials’ in identification and confiscation of endangered wildlife species

Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF (EWS-WWF) in partnership with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), has completed the final phase of their three-year CITES project (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), with the production of CITES identification manuals in Arabic. These manuals help Arabic-speaking government officials and custom agents identify species in order to tackle the illegal trade of wildlife in the UAE. The manuals are comprehensive, devoid of technical jargon and easy to understand. By being produced in Arabic, the manuals will help ease the implementation of an often complex convention. Authorities in the UAE firmly believe that awareness plays a key role in wildlife conservation and therefore places great importance on producing tools such as these manuals. The UAE CITES project, which began in 2002, has helped UAE customs authorities succeed in capturing a wide variety of illegal specimens, such as shahtoosh shawls, ivory, live primates and wild cats to name a few. Worldwide, wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually and includes hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimen from tens of thousands of species. It has recently been suggested that the global trade is estimated at more than $10 billion annually. “In order to effectively combat the illegal trade of wildlife it is essential that government and customs officials are able to identify these species, hence the development of the CITES manuals,” stated Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS-WWF. “Through our partnership with EAD, we have successfully produced Arabic language manuals that will ensure we are able to tackle this issue in a much more efficient manner.” In addition to the development of the CITES manuals, EWS-WWF and the CITES Secretariat organized a series of ‘Train-the Trainer’ workshops for key government officials from the Ministry of Environment & Water, Municipalities, Customs and environmental agencies. Participants were trained on how to use the manuals. His Excellency Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Secretary General of EAD stated; “The UAE CITES project has, and will continue to help us protect the earth’s natural heritage. We recognize that the threat to endangered species is of critical importance today. Together with our partners, we will do everything within our power to ensure that the relevant UAE authorities and customs agents are fully aware and equipped to help us in the fight against illegal trade. Translating these identification manuals is a step in the right direction.” CITES is an international agreement between governments with the aim of ensuring international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Illegally traded species are often already highly threatened and in danger of extinction, therefore contributing to loss of biodiversity.

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