Wildlife urgently needs justice
Wildlife crimes are causing irreversible harm to biodiversity and society. The poaching and trafficking of protected wildlife species, many of them already endangered, occurs on a truly industrial scale. Illegal fishing is putting immense pressure on overexploited fish stocks. Illegal timber logging undermines socio-economic development and fuels climate change.
The trafficking of flora and fauna has global consequences: in addition to accelerating the loss of fragile ecosystems, wildlife crimes destabilise societies, threatening the basic livelihood of many impoverished communities and place international security at risk.
Wildlife crime has reached a crisis point:
- Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal, with estimated one million pangolins removed from the wild and trafficked in the past 10 years. This is the equivalent of one pangolin being poached in the wild every five minutes
- Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is a USD 23 billion criminal business a year, according to estimates. That means that one in five fish caught worldwide are done so illegally.
Wildlife crime is a low-risk-for-high-reward dirty industry. And it is big business, currently estimated to be the 4th most profitable global crime, after drug trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeiting. Organised crime networks have been attracted by the large financial rewards and low risk of detection or prosecution enabling them to commit these crimes.
Given their complex and transnational nature, wildlife crimes are often overlooked: rather than going for the high-level international criminals, more focus is placed on targeting more accessible criminals such as poachers and low-level smugglers. When illegal shipments of fish, timber or wildlife are intercepted, they are rarely subjected to follow-up investigations.