A Wildlife Article from All-Creatures.org

Wildlife Trafficking 101: Everything You Need to Know

From Linnea Harris, EcoWatch.com
December 2022

When you think of wildlife trafficking, you might envision well-known targets of poaching like tigers and elephants, but wildlife trafficking involves tens of thousands of species and millions of wild plants and animals. Itís a huge business ó often relying on the same international criminal networks of drug and human trafficking ó with smuggled goods valued at $10 billion a year. The State Department estimates that it is the third largest type of illegal trade, after drugs and weapons.

A pangolin in an animal sanctuary in Zimbabwe. JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP via Getty Images

What Is Wildlife Trafficking?

While there is no universal treaty that defines wildlife crime, in a broad sense, wildlife trafficking is generally defined as a crime that involves the illegal trade, poaching, smuggling, capture, or collection of protected, endangered, and managed wildlife, including both animals and plants.

Itís important to note that not all wildlife trade is a crime; some trade is legal, and is done in a manner that doesnít harm wild populations. Many wild plants and animals are caught or harvested legally to sell as pets, food, ornamental plants, or to make goods like leather and medicine. Trafficking, on the other hand, refers to circumstances where the manner of collection or amount collected is unregulated or otherwise outside legal bounds.

Glass Eels
Glass eels caught off the coast of France. Patrick Pleul / picture alliance via Getty Images

Quick Key Facts

  1. Wildlife trafficking is the second biggest direct threat to species, following habitat destruction.
  2. Itís a huge business with smuggled goods valued at $10 billion a year, and involves tens of thousands of species and millions of wild plants and animals.
  3. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that 958 species are at risk of extinction directly because of international trade.
  4. Wildlife trafficking not only impacts plant and animal populations, but also humans who rely on wildlife for vital resources and functional ecosystems for major industries.
  5. Of the 1.2 million African elephants that lived in 1980, fewer than 420,000 remain, largely due to illegal poaching.
  6. Tigers have disappeared from 95% of their original range in Africa, and only about 4,000 to 5,000 still exist in the wild.
  7. Pangolins are the most heavily trafficked wild mammal; one million have been poached from the wild in the past 15 years.
  8. Species of both cacti and orchids are faced with extinction from overexploitation.


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.


rescued Lion Cubs
Lion cubs after they were saved from illegal wildlife trafficking by Riau Police authority in Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia on Dec. 15, 2019. Dedy Sutisna / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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