crocodile

United Nation Reports Global Wildlife Trafficking Is Causing ‘Untold Harm Upon Nature’

A report from the United Nations has warned that more than 4,000 species of animals around the world are currently being targeted by traffickers, which is causing an unknown level of “harm upon nature.”

Crimes and trafficking involving wildlife are driven by demands for medicine, pets, bushmeat, ornamental plants, and trophies, according to reports. Of all the animals currently being trafficked, 40% are on the “red list” of threatened or near-threatened species. 

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The wildlife trade is active in more than 80% of countries around the world, according to the report which came from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

“Despite gaps in knowledge about the full extent of wildlife trafficking and associated crime, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that this remains a significant global problem far from being resolved.”

Researchers for the report looked at more than 140,000 wildlife seizures that took place between 2015 and 2021. They found that Corals, larger reptiles like crocodiles, and elephants had the largest number of individual seizures. 

These crimes are also actively driving extinction rates in species of rare orchids, succulent plants, reptiles, and fish, according to UNODC. 

“About 16,000 tonnes of goods were seized. Actual wildlife trafficking levels are of course far greater than the recorded seizures,” researchers say in the report.

“Wildlife crime inflicts untold harm upon nature, and it also jeopardizes livelihoods, public health, good governance and our planet’s ability to fight climate change,” said Ghada Waly, the executive director of the UNODC.

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Separate research has found that specific populations of spider monkeys and Baird’s tapir have declined up to 99.9% due to the illegal wildlife trade exclusively. Researchers want the world to know that this illegal trading can lead to global extinctions of multiple species, which would also impact the overall environment. 

“Much wildlife crime is linked to large organized crime groups. Corruption plays a critical role in undermining efforts to stop wildlife trafficking, from bribes paid to inspectors, to government officials allowing fake permits,” the report says.

“An absence of seizures of a particular commodity or at a certain location could reflect lack of enforcement, rather than evidence that illegal trade was not taking place,” researchers said

It is estimated that the illegal wildlife trading industry could be worth around $23 billion annually, with over 100 million plants and animals being trafficked every year. While the UNODC has the goal of ending all trafficking of protected species, it seems unlikely that they’ll reach that by 2030 as they initially planned. 

“To address this crime, we must match the adaptability and agility of illegal wildlife trade,” said Waly.