Bears, chimpanzees and pangolins to be better protected by new UK funding

Millions offered to projects helping tackle illegal wildlife trade

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The British government has announced plans to better protect endangered species around the world, such as bears, chimpanzees and pangolins, clamping down on the illegal wildlife trade.

The latest round of the UK's Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, announced on Friday, will offer grants of up to £1.5 million ($1.8m) to environmental groups helping to tackle the worldwide issue.

The UK government says the illegal wildlife trade "threatens species with extinction, fuels corruption and deprives some of the world’s poorest communities of sustainable livelihoods", adding it is linked to organised crime and disease outbreaks among animals.

More than 22 projects seeking to tackle poaching and illegal wildlife trade will now be awarded in excess of £7m under the IWTCF.

Beneficiaries include two projects in Liberia, which are working to reduce the demand for chimpanzee bushmeat, and a project in Laos, which will increase the powers of law enforcement to tackle the trafficking of wild bears by criminals.

Other UK-funded projects have already helped to dismantle the illegal pangolin trade in Vietnam, prevent the extinction of Bolivia’s critically endangered red-fronted macaw, as well as reducing demand for freshwater tortoises in Bangladesh.

Chairman of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Advisory Group John Scanlon said stopping wildlife crime would "help ensure that wild animals and plants are not plundered by organised criminals" and will instead lead to local and indigenous people benefiting instead.

To date, the IWT Challenge Fund has supported 136 projects in more than 60 countries to a value of more than £43m.

International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said the UK was leading calls to reverse biodiversity loss, which he said was "one of the greatest challenges humanity faces today".

The announcement comes less than six months before the crucial Cop15 Biodiversity Summit in Canada, where countries will agree to a new global biodiversity framework, with targets for 2030.

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Updated: July 01, 2022, 3:03 PM