The UK government is pledging £4 million in funding towards the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

The announcement has been made at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama, where the UK government is pushing to secure stronger protections for some of the world’s most threatened species such as pangolins and requiem sharks.

CITES is an international agreement between governments that protects over 38,000 wild plant and animal species from the impacts of international trade.

The new funding will go towards the next phase of ICCWC programming and will help fight wildlife crime by increasing the detection, disruption and detention of criminals.

Transnational criminal networks profit from illegal trade, causing serious security implications for many countries and regions.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:

“We want to keep protecting our most endangered plants and animals. This £4 million of funding going to the ICCWC will help tackle criminals and stop this vile trade.

The UK is showing global leadership on conservation and proposing stronger protections for a range of rare species at this summit such as pangolins and sharks.

“We will also be driving global efforts to secure a post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal next month.”

CITES secretary-general, Ivonne Higuero, said:

“We’re grateful to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for this important contribution to support the efforts of CITES Parties to combat wildlife crime.

“It is a vote of confidence in the coordinated work being done by ICCWC partners to put an end to this scourge affecting our planet and its people.

“This funding means more parties will be assisted by the consortium to further strengthen their capabilities in the decade to come.”

Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade has been estimated to be worth up to £17 billion a year.