New report links the illegal wildlife trade to global security

Thursday, 12 September, 2013
Brussels, Belgium

The illegal wildlife trade is not only detrimental to many of the world’s endangered species, but also poses a genuine threat to national and global security, a new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – asserts.

With today’s release of the report Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of The Illegal Wildlife Trade, IFAW is one of the first organisations to publicly link the escalating poaching crisis to global security.

“This report shows wildlife trafficking is right up there with drug trafficking, illegal arms trafficking and human trafficking” said Satyen Sinha, IFAW EU Wildlife Crime Officer. “IFAW calls for an EU Action Plan, similar to Action Plans developed to combat these other serious crimes as the best way for the EU to combat this global plague.”

The report contends that the unprecedented poaching levels and sophisticated smuggling capabilities can only be the result of organized criminal activity – severely compromising the security of wildlife rangers and entire communities and regions.

“Criminals are attracted to wildlife trafficking for the low risks, high profits and weak penalties,” Sinha added.  “Products like rhino horn and bear bile can be worth more than gold or cocaine; and the earnings can amount to well over 1000 per cent return on investment. Is it any wonder that well-armed rebel and militia groups are killing imperiled species to fund their atrocities”

According to Europol, wildlife trafficking and poaching fuel an €18 to €26 billion annual global industry that is now the fourth-largest illegal activity on the planet (behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking).

 “The EU accounts for a third of ivory seizures and is believed to be one of the largest destination markets for illegally trafficked wildlife in the world,” noted Adrian Hiel,  IFAW EU Communications Manager.  “We need to raise awareness and urge consumers to think twice before buying products made from endangered species.” 

In addition to the growing demand for wildlife products, other factors contributing to the proliferation of the illegal wildlife trade are inadequate regulations, lack of enforcement, online marketplaces and the legal wildlife trade.

Hiel adds:  “IFAW is working to extinguish this illicit trade by tackling all the links on the trafficking chain – in source, transit and end-user nations.  We believe that global action at the highest levels is necessary to save imperiled wildlife while contributing to a safer world for people.”

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