Deborah Meaden backs WWF-UK bid to stop illegal trade in endangered species
Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden has joined calls to put a stop to the illegal trade in endangered species such as tigers, elephants and rhinos.
As countries meet for a conference on the international trade in threatened species, Ms Meaden, who lives in Somerset and is now an ambassador for conservation charity WWF-UK, warned that without action to save wildlife, there would soon be no wildlife left to save.
The meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Bangkok, Thailand, is considering protection measures for species ranging from sharks and manta rays to rhinos and polar bears.
At the conference, Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged to end the ivory trade in Thailand.
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A recent report by WWF warned that trafficking of wildlife products such as rhino horn, ivory and illegal timber was one of the biggest trades in the world, worth £12 billion and driving species towards extinction, funding war and hitting communities.
Rhino horn is worth more per kilo than cocaine or diamonds, prompting poaching in Africa and thefts from UK museums, while the killing of African elephants for ivory has reached record levels.
Ms Meaden said: “I have been to Africa and seen for myself the devastating impacts of poaching.
“The game has changed – it’s no longer just one man and his rifle; these are very sophisticated operations we’re seeing. So I really hope parties to Cites do what is necessary to save our wildlife, otherwise there will be no wildlife left to save.”
According to WWF, the UK is a consumer of illegal wildlife products, and a transit country to other destinations, mostly China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, where products such as rhino horn are sought after as remedies for everything from cancer to hangovers.