I tend to think of crime as something that primarily affects humans, but there’s an entire category of offenses that mainly affect animals – wildlife crime. It’s an area that gets little attention, but it’s actually a multi-billion dollar black market that impacts both natural ecosystems and human communities alike.
According to one editorial (PDF), groups involved in wildlife crime are becoming increasingly dangerous to local communities, and may even be using the proceeds of wildlife crime to fund political rebeillion in certain regions:
Criminal syndicates involved in wildlife trafficking are increasingly well organised, with significant networks of international connections that enable them to gather and transport large quantities of illegal wildlife products across continents. Poaching gangs are better equipped, heavily armed, technologically savvy and prepared to move quickly between countries to exploit legal loopholes, areas of weak enforcement or changing demand. The amount of money involved has made the trade increasingly sophisticated, more violent and more susceptible to corruption, including of professionals within the system (such as veterinarian involvement in illegal rhino horn trade in South Africa). Illegal wildlife products are also used by rebel movements, such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Janjaweed militia…and the Maoists in Nepal…to fund their activities.
The World Wildlife Federation has created a documentary series to spread the word about this type of crime and what countries are doing in an effort to counter it. The first installment of that series was released this week, and it’s worth a few minutes to check it out.
Stop Wildlife Crime – Part I
Have a safe weekend!
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