Governments not giving priority to fight illegal wildlife trade; report

The global approach to fighting wildlife trafficking is failing, which has led to the instability of society and threatening the existence of the illegally traded species. Wildlife trafficking, which is considered to be the fourth largest illicit global trade after narcotics, counterfeiting of currencies and products and human trafficking, is estimated to be worth at least 19 billion dollars per year, according to a report of the World Wildlife Fund and Dalberg.

The report “Fighting Illicit Wildlife Trafficking; A consultation with governments” said that wildlife trafficking was a lucrative business for criminal syndicates as the risk involved was low compared to other crimes and high profits.

The report summarises the views of governments and international organisations on illicit wildlife trafficking.  The report points out that the governments and international organisations agreed that the current approach against wildlife trafficking was not sufficient. It said that the countries that are primarily associated with demand are concerned with enforcement on the supply side. On the other hand, the countries primarily associated with supply are concerned with education and enforcement on the demand side. The International organisations and government representatives said that governments were not giving any priority to fight this illegal trade.


Pointing out that illicit wildlife trafficking compromised the security of countries, the report said that much of the illegal wildlife business was run by criminal groups with broad international reach. The profits from these businesses could be used finance civil conflicts and terrorist related activities, the report said. . Illicit wildlife trafficking was also connected with other forms of illegal trafficking and money laundering, it said.


The corruption that is associated with illicit wildlife trafficking and the security threat posed by the often violent nature of illegal wildlife product sourcing, deter investment and hinder growth in source, transit and demand countries. It reduces the effectiveness of governments, erode rule of law, deter civil engagement, affect the growth of local communities and harm the reputation and trust in the state.


Considered an important asset by many communities, especially the poorest in the developing world, the exploitation of wildlife cold heavily lead to decrease in species and, in some cases, bring a species close to extinction.


The report said that illicit wildlife trafficking could lead to disease transmission that could threaten health of humans, livestock and ecosystems.


In the report, the WWF has called upon governments to take immediate action to recognize the threat posed by illicit wildlife trafficking to their own sovereignty. They need to treat this crime equally and in coordination with efforts to halt other forms of illegal trafficking, corruption and money laundering. The WWF said that the issue should be addressed by multiple ministries in a coordinated manner.

It also called for strengthen collaborative mechanisms to enforce strict regulations and hold governments to account for their actions, including applying sanctions where necessary. They have to collaborate with civil society and private sector to drive behavioural change efforts to reduce the incentives to consume endangered species, in particular in demand countries. The civil society and private sector should be engaged in recognizing the social and economic value of wildlife and in carrying out activities for its conservation, to reduce the incentives to engage in the illegal traffic.

There should also be a coordinated effort to reduce illegal supply as well as demand. The issue of illicit wildlife trafficking should be discussed at inter-ministerial levels and focus should be on enhancing the rule of law, and strengthening custom controls and other international enforcement mechanisms.



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