Wildlife rescue centres call for EU support and recognition   

On 05/10/2017, in All posts, by Animal Welfare Intergroup

The Intergroup for the Welfare and Conservation of Animals has met today to discuss about the welfare of confiscated animals and the role of rescue centres. This issue will be debated at the upcoming CITES Standing Committee meeting, in the context of the implementation of CITES Resolution 17.8 on disposal of illegally traded specimens, adopted at the 17th  Conference of the Parties (CoP17). The Resolution urges parties to develop national plans, to identify ways for procuring funds for the care of confiscated animals and to list experts/institutions for the identification and care of confiscated animals.

Representatives of the European Alliance for Rescue Centres and Sanctuaries (EARS) and of AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection presented the point of view of CITES – accredited rescue centres that are key players in the fight against  wildlife trafficking.

The speakers underlined that the staff of qualified rescue centres can offer expertise to the government in identifying, handling, transporting, housing, and caring for specimens, or can train government representatives in these skills. Rescue centres can keep detailed records which may prove invaluable for law enforcement purposes and ensure that animals are not sold, stolen, permitted to re-enter trade, unnecessarily euthanised, or improperly released. However, presently no consistent and clear standards exist for the designation and selection of rescue centres throughout the EU and they suffer from a chronic lack of funds and consideration.

Dave Eastham, Executive Director at EARS, illustrated the importance of the coordination and communication among rescue centres: “EARS has recently created an online database of wildlife rescue facilities across Europe to facilitate the identification of rescue centres which have the facilities and expertise to care for the animal. This has been necessary as part of our efforts to improve the way how government and designated rescue centres work together to tackle illegal wildlife crime”.

By presenting the data collected in two AAP CITES-accredited rescue centres, Eva Schippers, Head of Rescue and Rehabilitation at AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection, demonstrated why not only Member States but also the EU has an important role to play in supporting the work of rescue centres:  “In Europe there’s a serious lack of good quality facilities. In addition, a large variety of animals should be relocated to rescue centres according to their specialisation and space availability, rather than to their geographical position. And only about 10% of the rescue centres costs’ are covered by the authorities”.

Ilaria Di Silvestre, Wildlife Programme Leader at Eurogroup for Animals, stated that clear guidance on designating CITES-accredited rescue centres is urgently needed to avoid that confiscated live specimens end up in inappropriate places such as inadequate temporary housing, commercial breeding facilities, or with unlicensed individuals unqualified to care for the animals. “The upcoming CITES Standing Committee meeting represents an important opportunity for the European Commission to show a clear commitment in this sense, by leading the development of such a guidance for CITES parties”, she said.

The presentations were followed by a lively debate.


 For more information please contact: Ilaria Di Silvestre, Programme Leader Wildlife at Eurogroup for Animals:


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Ilaria Di Silvestre

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