We are facing rapid and accelerating extinction of species through wildlife crime by organised transnational criminal networks.
We are dedicated to a future in which wildlife crime doesn't exist because governments effectively enforce the law.
The world has lost 50% of its biodiversity in the last 40 years* and the major factor is illegal extraction (poaching, illegal logging and fishing) and trafficking.
Many endangered species face imminent extinction, marine environments and fish stocks are collapsing and natural habitats are being lost forever due to illegal logging.
In addition to accelerating the loss to biodiversity, wildlife crime de-stabilises societies, affects local communities (eg: killing of rangers and poachers, which can leave families destitute), increases global health risks (spreading of disease through consumption and transport) and fuels corruption and other types of crime such as money laundering and fraud.
Wildlife crime is the fourth biggest illicit industry globally and its industrial scale is staggering:
- Every 15 minutes an elephant is poached and every 8 hours a rhino.
- More than 1 million pangolins have been illegally traded in the past 10 years.
- Approximately 28,300 freshwater turtles are traded every day – around 80% of Asia’s freshwater turtles are in danger of extinction.
- Helmeted hornbills are critically endangered, due to their prized casque known as ‘red ivory’ which is traded at five times the price of ivory.
- Illegal and unregulated fishing is thought to account for 30% of the global catch.
- The population of tigers left in the wild is about 3,890 (WWF) – they are poached for their skins, bones, claws and meat.
- Approximately USD 1bn worth of illegally sourced python skins are imported into Europe each year.
It is not only iconic species which are affected, many lesser known reptiles, birds and habitats are being decimated, altogether causing irreparable environmental and societal damage.
Wildlife crime sits alongside drugs, counterfeit and human trafficking in the top four illegal global trades. Operated by organised transnational criminal networks for whom wildlife crime carries great reward at low risk.
- A kilo of raw rhino horn fetches EUR 24k on the black market, while a kilo of ‘processed’ rhino horn products such as bangles, bracelets or libation cups can reach EUR 60-65k – that is more than a kilo of cocaine, or gold – yet the comparative risk for criminals is low.
Scale of the challenge
We are facing a culture of inaction. The laissez-faire and lip-service only attitude of governments to enforcing the law, and the scale of corruption with regards wildlife crime is the number one reason behind its exponential growth.
There are many international treaties, a majority of countries have strict wildlife crime laws and there are enough prosecutors and justice systems in place. Yet governments and national authorities are failing to enforce these laws.
Corruption and indifference is allowing wildlife crime to flourish.
Time is not on our side. The effects of doing nothing are irreversible.
Clearly, we need a new way of thinking and a way to act faster.