Posts Tagged With: Wildlife trade

Poaching: Its Killing More Than “Just Animals”

A reason to be concerned about the poaching crisis in Africa, besides the danger of extinction to elephants and rhinos, is the effect on people. At $19 billion per year, the illegal wildlife trade is a lucrative international crime.

EarthThe wildlife trade includes not only the slaughter of the elephant and rhino for their ivory and horns, but the slaughter of great apes and tigers for meat and pelts, as well as the smuggling of exotic birds and other animals for pet sales.

tusksPeople worldwide have turned to poaching as the desired moneymaker over other options, because the payoff is tremendous and the penalty is minimal; a criminal’s dream.  Rhino horns are worth more than cocaine or gold. Whereas the penalty is generally a fine and little or no jail time. Arrests often don’t even lead to convictions.

It is most often the average citizen poaching to support his family (not the organized higher-ups/kingpins) who gets caught.

Although poaching, which is part of the illegal wildlife trade, is ranked fifth in the world, it is used as a means to fund other criminal agendas, such as the top three (see above graphic).

Rebel and militia groups, criminal syndicates, and even terrorist organizations are using the lucrative black market  to finance their operations,

One example is The Lord’s Resistance Army, which has kidnapped hundreds of boys and girls across central Africa to be fighters and sex slaves, are participating in this illegal trade. Another is thought to be Janjaweed militia from Sudan, who allegedly killed 86 elephants (including pregnant females) in one week.

At one of the highest levels of the rhino horn trade chain, are the leaders of Asian run syndicates that monopolize the flow hornsof horn from South Africa to Asian markets. These individuals are the “kingpins” of the trade, often using different people to front as bogus hunters in rhino trophy hunts.

For a clearer picture of the process and the far-reaching implications of poaching and illegal wildlife trade, see the following IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) graphic:

IFAW: The Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade

In addition to funding the sex trade, drug cartels and terrorist groups,  poaching activity puts wildlife officials and their families in mortal danger as well. There have been at least 1,000 park rangers killed in 35 different countries over the last decade alone.

Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed.

Each day, 2-3 rhino are slaughtered.

At least 1 tiger a day is butchered.

Of course there’s no way to tell how many people die as a result from the poaching and trade, directly or indirectly through funding of the other lucrative crime it supports.

With far-reaching consequences to human and animal life, as well as the environment, we as individuals need to demand our governments bring an end to the organizations behind this tragedy. Once our animals go extinct, it won’t be long until it is our turn.

ele and rhino friends“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Chief Seattle

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

No Country is Innocent

Illegal wildlife trade of horns and tusks is a lucrative worldwide business. In recent years it has exploded into a black market worth of approximately $20 billion a year.  No one seems to be exempt from this growing tragedy. Most obvious involvement lies in Africa, China and Vietnam; but Ireland, the US, and now even the Czech Republic and Poland have blood on their hands.

Black rhinoceros and Africa elephant, Africa

OPERATION CRASH
To police the snowballing issue,  the US  has stepped up involvement with Operation Crash. It is an ongoing nationwide criminal investigation led by the Fish and Wildlife Service, started in 2010,  that is addressing all aspects of US involvement in the black market rhino horn trade.

The first phase of this probe (focused on the unlawful purchase and outbound smuggling of rhino horn from the US) has resulted in 14 arrests and six convictions to date. Charges filed include conspiracy, smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion and bribery in addition to violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Recently a father and son team described by federal prosecutor as being “at the apex of the rhino horn smuggling pyramid” in the United States, has been sentenced to more than three years in prison on federal wildlife smuggling and money laundering charges. Their involvement in horn smuggling played a direct role in driving the price of rhino horn to nearly $25,000 per lb.

How are other countries faring? According to WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) data: Laos, Mozambique, Mynamar, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zambia are failing.

wildlife trade scorecard
WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC
It is imperative that each country step up laws and regulation on illegal trade. It is not just a Chinese or African problem. This is a worldwide epidemic and we’re in this together. While most countries see the wildlife trade as “an environmental problem”, WWFs President and CEO Carter Roberts warns “illicit wildlife trafficking compromises the security of countries. Much of the trade in illegal wildlife products is run by criminal groups with broad international reach, and the profits can be used to finance civil conflicts and terrorist-related activities. Illicit wildlife trafficking is also linked to other forms of illegal trafficking and money-laundering.”

There is something we can all do. We can be more conscientious and alert.  There are several steps the public can take to support the elimination of the illegal wildlife trade both abroad and domestically:

  • International travelers should avoid purchasing and/or carrying wild animal products, including meat, skins, and traditional medicines. Intentionally smuggled wildlife imports are often concealed in boxes or coolers; if you see a passenger carrying a suspicious container report it to Customs and Border Protection officials.
  • When traveling domestically, be aware of national and state laws regarding the transport of wild animals. Some laws differ among states.
  • We encourage you to make conscientious choices about your pet choices. Always make sure pets are captive-bred and choose pets that present minimal health and environmental risks (please visit PetWatch for more information), and can be adequately cared for in a captive situation. Please visit www.PetWatch.net for more information.
illegal trade routes
Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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