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Do You Know Illegal Wildlife Trade is 4th Largest Transnational Crime After Drugs, Weapons & Human Trafficking?

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

United Nations Environment Programme says, “The illegal wildlife trade is the 4th-largest transnational crime after drugs, weapons & human trafficking. And urged people to do their best to protect them & go Wild for Life. 

The Independent news stated that ‘If we don’t buy, they don’t die': Tackling the global demand that's driving the illegal wildlife trade. Some endangered species are sought out as delicacies while others are coveted for their medicinal properties or decorative value. 

Many species are protected by national and international laws because their populations are at risk. When people kill or take them from the wild, despite this protection, the animal or plant and its products are all part of the illegal trade. International trade in endangered and threatened species is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) which strives to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants is legal, sustainable and traceable and is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild. International commercial trade is strictly prohibited for those species listed. 

Illegal trade in wild animals and plants is not limited to endangered or threatened species. The sale of timber, firewood and charcoal stemming from illegal logging or trade-in fish that are caught in restricted areas or using illegal methods are, for example, also included within the term illegal trade in wildlife. It’s also important to note that the illegal trade in wildlife is also domestic with many countries having their national legislation. Unfortunately, the massive illegal trade in wildlife ignores existing laws and is thriving. This means that when people buy animal or plant products that were sourced by killing or harvesting species illegally, they’re complicit in perpetuating wildlife crime, knowingly or unknowingly. 

This trade thrives on ignorance, indifference and turning a blind eye to the laws that govern it. But the more we know, the more we can see how our decisions have a major impact on wildlife, people and the planet.  

The good news is that we really can tackle illegal trade in wildlife by: 

  • Being better informed about the status of wildlife and wildlife products.

  • Supporting governments and local communities to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife.

  • Spreading the word and encouraging others to get better informed.

  • Reporting crimes when they are witnessed through mobile technology and national hotlines.

  • Working to reduce human-wildlife conflict for land and resources at the community level.

  • Making individual choices that don’t threaten species such as not buying products from wildlife protected by law and by supporting companies that demonstrate sustainable supply chains and environmentally responsible policies.

The UN recognizes wildlife crime as a serious crime and a threat to our shared sustainable development goals. The new 2030 agenda of the UN sets out Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which have an explicit focus on protecting the integrity of our ecosystems by targeting the environmental crimes, that take place both on land and at sea.  

  • SDG14:“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. This goal calls for an end to illegal and unreported fishing, and destructive fishing practices. 

  • SDG15:  “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

Together, let’s make it our mission to bring species back from the brink and preserve our precious planet for the benefit of people and planet. The world signed up to new goals that commit to take urgent action to end poaching of protected species. Together, we can be part of the success of Goals 14 & 15. For more details visit the website www.wildfor.life. 

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