The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen (see photograph with caption: Show me yours and I’ll show you mine) have teamed up for a visit to see the important role the UK’s Border Force plays in fighting the illegal wildlife trade at Heathrow Airport.
After receiving a briefing from illegal wildlife trade experts in the Border Force team, Johnson and Pietersen were shown confiscated items which people have tried to smuggle through customs and are now housed in Heathrow Airport’s ‘dead shed’.
Johnson said the illegal wildlife trade is “a vile and loathsome crime with organised gangs and criminal scum at the very heart of it. Not only is it wiping out wildlife populations, it is also robbing communities of sustainable incomes and damaging economies across Africa and Asia, all for the senseless demand in live animals and wildlife products for trinkets and quack medicines”.
He said the Border Force is doing good work to stop these items from ending up on the black market in the UK but more can be done on a global scale “if we are going to stamp this crime out for good. That’s why we are bringing world leaders together for an international conference this autumn, to find a way to save our charismatic megafauna and endangered species before it is too late”.
Johnson applauded the work that Pietersen and other wildlife campaigners are doing to raise awareness of the plight of endangered rhinos across Africa and Asia.
Pietersen said stopping the illegal wildlife trade is “the only way we will save those endangered species which are on the brink of extinction. In South Africa close to three rhinos are illegally killed every single day. It’s shameful that the world is just sitting back and watching as whole species are being wiped out.
“I support the vital work going on by governments around the world to tackle this issue head on but we need action now to halt the demand for the illegal wildlife trade before we see species wiped out for good.”