Wildlife Smuggling Is Worth Up To R348bn A Year…

Photo|nationalgeographicnewsroom

By Kweku Bedu-Addo

Around the world, endangered species are being driven to the point of extinction by the demand for illegal wildlife products. Despite our best efforts, the criminals are still winning. To turn the tide, we need to rethink our approach. That means recognizing that everyone has a part to play – including the financial sector.

The scale of the challenge is enormous, and the statistics are alarming. More than 30 000 elephants are killed each year. Tigers have become so rare that there are more of them living in US captivity than in the wild. And there is a real human cost as well – approximately 1 000 wildlife rangers have been killed in the last 10 years while trying to protect endangered species.

This isn’t simply a conservation issue. The reality is that the illegal wildlife trade is an organized crime which fuels violence, drives corruption, and impoverishes communities.

This brutal business is now worth between $7 – 23bn annually (around R105 – R348bn at current rates) to the criminals behind it. Research also shows that it is often linked to other damaging crimes: According to David Fein, two-thirds of the cases of illegal wildlife trade analyzed were connected to the narcotics trade. That means that combating the illegal wildlife trade offers an opportunity to better tackle the threat of organized crime…Read more>>

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