African religious leaders join forces to help stop illegal wildlife trade22/09/2012 22:56:25 Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and traditional faith leaders speak out against wildlife crime
September 2012. WWF and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) have announced a first-ever partnership with faith leaders from across Africa to unite against the killing of endangered species for the illegal wildlife trade. In an unprecedented move, 50 African religious representatives from different faiths and countries have come together to call for the end of illegal wildlife trade which is annihilating the continent's elephant and rhino populations.
Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist and traditional faiths
Halting wildlife trade is a moral issue
Illegal wildlife trade is the greatest threat to many endangered species, jeopardizing decades of conservation work and threatening their survival. 2011 saw the highest recorded rates of killings on the continent in more than two decades and the largest scale illegal ivory seizures than anytime in recorded history (equalling the tusks from more than 4,000 dead elephants). Rhino poaching in South Africa has increased more than 3,000 percent in the last five years. Poachers wipe out tens of thousands of African elephants every year. Tanzania and Kenya function as major conduits through which large-scale illegal ivory goods are moved through the Congo Basin to international Asian markets including Vietnam, Thailand and China.
"Wildlife poaching is a highly organized crime backed by international syndicates who also back other crimes such as gun and drug trafficking. The victims of illegal wildlife trade include not only rhinos and elephants but also rangers and local communities. At a wider scale, we should recognize that illegal wildlife trade undermines social stability and peace-keeping efforts in Africa," said Chungyalpa.
"ARC has been working with religions over the past 20 years to help them explore how to take real action to protect wildlife. Religious leaders are seeing wanton destruction of the great species (and the habitat that nurtures them) as an attack on both creation and the creator. This is a really welcome initiative coming from Africa," said ARC Secretary-General, Martin Palmer
Abstracts from the Faith Statements include:
In the light of this, our faith, we call upon all Christians, but especially those of our tradition, to protect the gifts of God in nature. In particular, in this time of deep crisis of creation, caused by human folly and sin, we ask all Christians to protect and defend our most endangered species in Africa, such as the rhinoceros, gorillas and the elephant.
All Hindus are encouraged to be respectful of all life on earth and to protect those who are under threat from exploitation, poaching and extinction. We particularly encourage Hindus to defend the most endangered, including the elephants and rhinos of Africa and the tigers of India.
The beauty and diversity of life are sparks of God's splendour to be cared for in a mood of service.
We therefore ask all the faithful to protect those species in our own lands that are most threatened, such as the elephant, gorilla and rhinoceros, and to assist in the prevention of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in order that on the Dreadful Day of Judgement, when the community of creatures stand before Allah, we will not be condemned by their words.
The richness of this world is a gift and a blessing from Allah. May we in turn be a blessing to all that Allah has made and given to our care.