The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (USWTA) announced their joining of forces in a united effort to fight the global epidemic in wildlife trafficking. Effective immediately, Sara Walker former Executive Director or the USWTA, will join the AZA staff in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the USWTA is now a program of the AZA.
“Wildlife trafficking is a global epidemic, and is driving some of the world’s most beloved animals to the brink of extinction,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are world leaders in saving animals from extinction, and this strategic alignment with travel, media, and consumer products business leaders, as well as conservation NGOs, will create and sustain powerful momentum.”
Beginning in 2015, the USWTA has assembled an impressive coalition of corporate and non-profit member organizations all working together to raise awareness about the devastating impact that wildlife trafficking has on wild animals and to stop the consumer demand for endangered species products. AZA is a founding member of the USWTA.
“In the past two years, USWTA has made significant progress in building public-private partnerships across a variety of sectors to tackle the poaching epidemic,” said David J. Hayes, Chair of USWTA. “AZA will provide a powerful platform for the continued expansion of partnership opportunities that raise awareness about wildlife trafficking, reduce poaching, and directly benefit critical wildlife populations around the world.”
An unprecedented increase in global demand for exotic wildlife products has triggered an industrial-scale killing spree of endangered species around the world. Wildlife trafficking has quickly become a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry, which now ranks as the fourth-largest transnational crime. Experts agree that if we don’t act quickly, trafficking will wipe out many endangered species in our lifetime—all at the expense of wild animals, the environment, and national security.
As the Senior Advisor on Wildlife Trafficking, Sara Walker will continue to lead the efforts of the USWTA and also work closely with AZA members on wildlife trafficking issues.
“I’m thrilled to join the dedicated team of conservation professionals at AZA,” said Walker. “I look forward to integrating USWTA into the broader mission of AZA’s efforts to protect wild animal populations around the world. Together, we will create a powerful coalition to reduce—and eventually end—the scourge of wildlife trafficking.”
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