Australia and New Zealand cases demonstrate global reach of illegal wildlife trade
The past couple of weeks have witnessed several awful reminders of the global reach of the insidious illegal wildlife trade.
This past week, The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joined with others to warn of the devastating decline of central Africa’s elephants. In just 10 years, a staggering 62% of central African elephants have been wiped out by poachers, driven on by international criminal syndicates, eager for ivory to sell to insatiable markets in East Asia.
The same week also revealed the appalling news that poachers have slaughtered every single rhino in the Mozambique section of one of Southern Africa’s most vaunted transfrontier parks. Worst of all, the poachers were aided by rangers who were meant to be there to protect these animals. Thirty rangers will appear in court soon.
This incident just goes to show the irresistible nature of money offered from global crime syndicates, who will stop at nothing for their prize.
But we shouldn’t be lulled into thinking these are faraway crimes in which our nations play no part. The previous week saw two cases come to light much closer to home.
The first saw a man plead guilty to eight charges of trading in endangered species in a New Zealand court, after Customs intercepted parcels containing ivory, which he had been buying over the internet and selling on to China.
The most depressing thing about this case, however, was that the man admitted to police that he knew elephants were being killed for their tusks but thought they would make a good investment. IFAW has been at the forefront of exposing the illegal wildlife trade on the internet and it is great to see enforcement authorities taking action.
The second saw investigators seize more than 400 animal parts in a raid on the Parramatta home, including lion, orangutan skulls, a mounted bear head and ivory products. The man in question this time was a 43-year-old school teacher. You would have thought he’d know better!
The raid was part of the Government’s Operation Bonaparte, a collaborative effort between multiple agencies fighting wildlife crime. It’s these kinds of efforts that highlight how with good intelligence and cooperation the battle against illegal wildlife trade can be won.