20 February 2019

South Africa: Lions, Tigers and Bears - Wildlife Trafficking in the Age of Globalisation

opinion

Trafficking of wildlife is big business and big money. As transnational trafficking networks continue to exploit endangered species to the point of near extinction, it is time to get serious about wildlife crime. Organised criminals have built their business model around those who poach and those who move illicit shipments across borders. Wildlife crime is therefore much more than a conservation problem, and until it is addressed from every angle, the trade will continue.

World Pangolin Day on 16 February was overshadowed by record-size seizures in the weeks leading up to it. In mid-January, Hong Kong seized more than eight tonnes of pangolin scales and nearly two tonnes of ivory. Two weeks later, Ugandan authorities seized 762 pieces of ivory and 423 kilograms of pangolin scales bound for Vietnam.

Just a few days later, a shipment of close to 30 metric tonnes of both dead and live pangolins, pangolin scales and pangolin meat was seized in Malaysia. The shipment also included two legs of a sun bear. The seizure in Hong Kong alone would have been supplied by hundreds of elephants and thousands of pangolins. All of these animals were illegally poached and trafficked by transnational organised criminal networks.

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