The multi-billion dollar illegal trade in protected species is one of the most lucrative illicit markets in the world today. Combined with habitat loss, it is driving many wild animals and plants towards extinction. Unsustainable poaching and wildlife trafficking is perpetrated globally, with less developed countries often targeted in this theft. Controlled by organized international crime syndicates, the value of the illegal wildlife trade is estimated at US$10-20 billion annually by some experts.
Despite national and international laws designed to protect endangered species, almost all wild species are traded. Big cats, pangolins, reptiles, birds, elephant ivory and illegal timber are traded illegally in large quantities. This illegal trade is driven by demand for hardwoods and softwoods; rare plants; bones, scales and other ingredients for traditional medicines; pets and zoo exhibits; collectors’ trophies; decorations and luxury items; as well as wild meat and other products. Many of those involved in the trade, including consumers, are unaware of the impact caused by their actions.
With species being removed from the wild faster than they can repopulate, their inputs to critical natural processes and ecosystem resilience are lost – a ‘knock on’ effect that causes other species to disappear. Left unchecked, wildlife trafficking threatens to unravel entire ecosystems.
Wildlife Trafficking Impacts:
Massive and irrevocable biodiversity loss: If trends continue, scientists predict 13-42% of Southeast Asia’s animal and plant species could be wiped out this century. At least half those losses would represent global extinctions.
Unravelling of living ecosystems that underpin essential environmental services including fresh water supply, food production, and climate stability.
Human health is endangered by unregulated trade of wild animals that can spread and pass on viruses and diseases. SARS and Avian Influenza, for example, were transferred from wild animals to human beings.
Organized crime is strengthened by profits from illegal wildlife trade. Links are now being detected between wildlife crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
Latest Counter Wildlife News
Thai Celebrities join Global A-list Celebrities to Rally Public Support against Illegal Wildlife Trade on World Environment Day
Thai celebrities and wildlife advocates, Kong Saharat, Lotter Pattarapol, Noona Nuengthida, and Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, joined A-list celebrities around the world to rally citizen support to end demand that is driving illegal trade in wildlife.
Twenty-six civil society and government organizations met in Beijing on May 12 and 13 to explore the impact of behavior change campaigns implemented in China over the last four years to curb the local consumption of wildlife products.
Twenty-five Vietnam-based civil society and government organizations convened yesterday in Hanoi and shared lessons learned on what is working and what is not on “behavior change” campaigns aimed at reducing wildlife consumption. Vietnam’s strong appetite for wildlife products and the adverse impact this is having on endangered species such as rhinos, tigers, and pangolins has prompted many NGOs and some government agencies to run campaigns to raise awareness and change behavior to curb this
A senior member of an international wildlife trafficking ring was arrested today in Bangkok, after a year of investigations by Royal Thai Police Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division (NRECD), Royal Thai Customs, Anti-Money Laundering Organization (AMLO), and the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN).
Airline and airport staff in one of the world’s most active wildlife trafficking hotspots are now better equipped to detect, report and combat wildlife crime. At last week’s Wildlife Friendly Skies workshop at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, more than 240 participants received training in identifying common smuggling methods and routes, signs of trafficking, effective first-response actions and examined real-life case studies.
ASEAN Member States launched a new first-of-its-kind ‘ASEAN Handbook on Legal Cooperation to Combat Wildlife Crime’ in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and Freeland.