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Combatting Wildlife Trafficking in Turkey

OECD – Global Forum on the Environment and Climate Change
7 July 2020
Aslihan Gedik was interviewed by Mercedes- Benz’s “Gelecek (Future) magazine
4 October 2020

WildatLife e.V. (Wild@Life) has launched the first campaign in Turkey, targeting wildlife trafficking and “famous” social media people using primates they have bought via the illegal trade, for their own fame. For this vital important mission, we have collaborate with the Turkish Government to stop a famous Social Media Influencer and Youtuber who is fueling wildlife trafficking repeatedly and abusing the primates he outsources from smugglers. He has illegally bought three primates and pretended that they were the same animals. People thought they look cute together but the truth was not like as it was seen on his Youtube, TikTok channels and Instagram account. We have taken the primate from him and the next day he was procuring another one. The fans were not seeing the crimes and the sad animal trafficking and trading behind it.

Media has shown a great interest to WildatLife’s fight against this crime and eventually we have confiscated all the primates and send the criminal to justice. This was a very tough and long road as our NGO was targeted by criminals and hackers.

We stand proud in making a history in Turkey, as never in the history wildlife traffickers has ever brought to justice and all primates confiscated. Our campaign was pushed to the Turkish Prosecutors as well and Merc Izgi has been indicted from the traffickers crime and is now facing 10 years sentence:

https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/youtuber-to-face-prison-time-for-smuggling-monkeys-into-turkey-161108

We are proud to have stopped wildlife trafficking and we have set example for the future traffickers. This will preserve wildlife where it belongs and no more primates would be trafficked to the country. A major milestone for Biodiversity.

Below you can read the interview of Aslihan Gedik with Daily Sabah:

Wildlife trafficking recently made headlines in Turkey after a famous YouTuber was detained for smuggling of monkeys. The supply and demand chain needs to be broken to fight trafficking of wild animals, watchdog official says

There is not much difference between someone getting caught with an illegal mobile phone and someone getting caught with an illegal monkey, our mindset needs to change, founder of Wild at Life watchdog, Aslı Han Gedik told Daily Sabah Friday.

Wild at Life (stylized as “Wild@Life”) is an international nongovernmental organization (NGO) working in the fields of wildlife conservation, wildlife rescue, biodiversity protection, anti-poaching and human-wildlife conflict mitigation. The watchdog’s main area of expertise is combating illegal wildlife trade and wildlife trafficking.

“Laws need to impose prison sentences for animal traffickers and also the people who buy such animals. Fines need to get higher so it can scare people from committing the crime,” she said.

Smuggling of wild animals came under the spotlight in Turkey recently, as famous YouTuber Meriç Izgi, who faced an online backlash for exploiting monkeys in his videos, was detained for smuggling yet another primate into Turkey.

It was the third monkey seized from Izgi within months after the YouTuber was accused of separating macaque monkeys from their mothers and driving them to death.

 

Anti-smuggling police raided Izgi’s home in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district and detained him for violating an international treaty against the smuggling of macaque monkeys. The monkey has since been handed over to the local wildlife authority for care.

Gedik, who spearheaded efforts to bring legal charges against Izgi, thanked the officials of the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMP), which is a subdivision of the Turkish government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.