I was honoured to be invited to share reflections on the fight against wildlife crime at the recent United for Wildlife Global Summit in my capacity as the Executive Director of the Wildlife Justice Commission and I would like to take the opportunity to share those reflections also in this blog.
Our planet’s wildlife is being decimated
Wildlife crime urgently needs justice. The illegal exploitation of wild flora and fauna is destroying our planet’s biodiversity. The global trafficking of wildlife continues relentlessly, driving many species towards extinction and threatening global security and public health. Massive efforts to raise awareness and reduce demand aren’t slowing one of the world’s most lucrative forms of transnational organised crime.
Nature is in unprecedented decline
We are at risk of losing more than one million species in the coming years, like rhinos, pangolins, tigers, and turtles – while criminals make billions from illegal sales.
Transnational Organised Crime
Wildlife crime is seen as a low-risk, high-reward dirty industry, currently estimated to be the fourth most profitable global crime, after the trafficking of drugs, humans, and firearms. Organised crime networks are attracted by the large financial rewards and low risk of detection or prosecution, emboldening them to prey on vulnerable species for profit.
Given their complex and transnational nature, wildlife crimes are often overlooked: rather than going for the high-level international criminals, focus tends to be placed on targeting more accessible criminals in the supply chain, such as poachers and low-level smugglers. When illegal shipments of wildlife are intercepted, they are rarely subjected to follow-up investigations.
How we fight wildlife crime
The Wildlife Justice Commission works to disrupt wildlife, fisheries, and timber crime, dismantle criminal networks, encourage the growth of political will to combat these problems, and build tomorrow’s sustainable solutions. To protect vulnerable species from exploitation, we:
- conduct intelligence-led investigations
- bridge the intelligence gap with intelligence analysis
- share intelligence and investigative findings with governments and stakeholders
- build sustainable solutions through training and mentoring
- urge governments to act
Since the creation of the Wildlife Justice Commission in 2015, a constant that has been observed in all intelligence-led investigations into wildlife trafficking across the globe is the role of corruption in enabling this form of organised crime. Corruption is the air that wildlife crime breathes; it is one of the key enablers of widespread and large-scale wildlife trafficking and one of the biggest obstacles to effective law enforcement.