The Problem

The multi-billion dollar illegal trade in protected species is one of the most lucrative illicit markets in the world. Unsustainable poaching and wildlife trafficking is perpetrated globally, with developing countries targeted in this theft. Controlled by organized international crime syndicates, the value of the illegal wildlife trade is estimated at US$10-20 billion annually by some experts.

star tortoise

Seized Star Tortoises

Despite national and international laws designed to protect endangered species, almost all wild species are traded. South Asia is a source region for most of the species demanded by the illegal trade – big cats, shahtoosh, rhino horn, elephant ivory, bear bile, pangolins, reptiles, birds,  sea cucumbers and collectible insects are all harvested illegally. Illegal plants and timber are also traded in large quantities.

The trade is driven by demand for hardwoods and softwoods; rare plants; bones, scales and other ingredients for traditional medicines; pets and zoo exhibits; collectors’ trophies; decorations and luxury items; as well as wild meat and other products.


Seized Pangolins

With species being removed from the wild faster than they can repopulate, their inputs to critical natural processes and ecosystem resilience are lost – a knock on effect that causes other species to disappear. Left unchecked, wildlife trafficking threatens to unravel entire ecosystems.

Wildlife Trafficking Impacts:

  • Massive and irrevocable biodiversity loss.
  • Unravelling of living ecosystems that underpin essential environmental services including fresh water supply, food production and climate stability.
  • Human health is endangered by unregulated trade in wild animals that can spread and pass on viruses and diseases. SARS and Avian Influenza, for example, were transferred from wild animals to human beings.
  • Organized Crime is strengthened by profits from illegal wildlife trade. Links are being detected between wildlife crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking.



What Can You Do to Help?

Keep your eyes and ears open. Tell us about any evidence of wildlife trafficking or sale of protected species you notice or hear about. Do not attempt to gather evidence if it involves any risk to your safety. Contact us and we will act. If it’s beyond our reach, we can alert partners.

Learn what is endangered and what is sustainable and be an informed consumer by finding out where products come from and what they are made of before you buy. Choose sustainable wood products made from certified legal sources.

Tell your friends, family and community leaders about the scale and impacts of illegal wildlife trade. Ask them to join you in taking responsibility.

Support anti-trafficking organisations via donations, CSR activities or volunteer work. Your contribution will help:
• Train and equip authorities to detect and stop poaching and illegal wildlife trade
• Investigate and dismantle the criminal networks behind wildlife trafficking
• Increase awareness among the public and policy makers