A new report commissioned and released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that, given its yearly worth of roughly $19 billion (€14.6528 billion), wildlife trafficking is officially the fourth largest illegal global trade.
The only competitors that have managed to surpass its “achievements” are narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.
Still, should things continue to unfold in this manner, it might not be long until wildlife trafficking makes it all the way into the top 3 illegal trades that are now threatening international security.
Interestingly enough, this latest WWF study argues that, more often than not, whatever money is made by trafficking wildlife goes into financing criminal networks whose members do not shy away from staging terrorist attacks and birthing civil conflicts.
“Much of the trade in illegal wildlife products is run by sophisticated criminal networks with broad international reach,” reads the official website for the WWF.
Furthermore, “The profits from wildlife trafficking are used to purchase weapons, finance civil conflicts and underwrite terrorist-related activities.”
Because of this, the WWF wishes to draw attention to the fact that, besides constituting a threat to biodiversity and natural ecosystems worldwide, animal trafficking must also be regarded as a threat to international security.
This basically means that it is not just conservationists who should bother themselves with catching poachers and wildlife traffickers.
Quite the contrary, national governments and international world leaders should also become actively involved in dealing with this issue.
“Wildlife crime has escalated alarmingly in the past decade. It is driven by global crime syndicates, and so we need a concentrated global response,” argued the Director General of WWF International, Jim Leape.
“It is communities, often the world’s poorest, that lose the most from this illicit trade, while criminal gangs and corrupt officials profit. Frontline rangers are losing their lives and families that depend on natural resources are losing their livelihoods,” he went on to add.