May 12, 2023
Ms. De Croos, EFL colleagues, and fellow public servants from the Sri Lankan law enforcement community — I am pleased to join you today for the closing ceremony of this training to combat wildlife trafficking, which is funded by the U.S. State Department. It’s great to see a whole of team effort from so many agencies here!
According to the U.S. Wildlife Conservation Society, between $7.8 billion and $10 billion in illicit wildlife products crosses borders each year. Illegal timber trade is estimated as much as $7 billion per year, making it one of the largest illegal businesses.
Sri Lanka’s animals are a treasure to the country. I’ve taken many trips to see the natural wonders of Sri Lanka, including to Yala and Minneriya, and want to see them protected.
This event was an opportunity for advocates and public servants from both countries come together to counter wildlife trafficking in Sri Lanka, to share best practices and learn from one another.
I am happy to be addressing this group of participants from the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sri Lanka Police, Sri Lanka Customs, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, Sri Lanka Navy, Forest Department, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Marine Environment Protection Authority, and National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency.
This whole of team effort, where you’re joining forces to share information, network, and talk to each other are a trafficker’s worst nightmare.
Your joint efforts will go a long way to combat those trying to harm wildlife and engage in illicit trade. Your work is to detect, seize, and prosecute traffickers – and all three elements are critically important. It’s also critical to maintaining good governance and rule of law.
For the past 41 years, EFL has done outstanding work in public litigation to conservation and scientific research, including collaborating with the government to address environmental concerns. I have no doubt that this workshop has helped the participants hone their skills in investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes.
This is the first in a series of training programs that will address all aspects of wildlife trafficking. I hope you know you are all doing heroic work, and to share your stories with your families and friends. We are all stewards of this planet and have a great responsibility – you should be proud of the work you are doing to combat wildlife trafficking.
To conclude, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated.” Thank you for being here and being a part of this meaningful training.