Custom officials in Macao, China grew suspicious when they saw 15 boxes of unusually heavy chocolate in a set of luggage. After soaking in warm water, the chocolate melted away to reveal 583 elephant tusks.
Since the beginning of his career, Maharjan has always worked to stop wildlife crime. Today, he organizes anti-poaching surveillance missions using intelligence gathered from a wide network of local informants.
As record numbers of rhinos are slaughtered for their horns, there is good news that poachers will be punished for their crimes. In the U.S., two businessmen will now serve time in prison and pay hefty fines for rhino horn trafficking.
This month in Bangkok, where 178 nations have convened to discuss global wildlife trade, many of the country delegates are publicly expressing urgency and seriousness of the crisis. As poaching rates for African elephants and rhinos soar to catastrophic heights, member nations of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) took action.
As governements convene at CITES, they must recognize the impact that escalating wildlife crime has not only on wildlife but also on people, economies and regional security. We can’t afford to turn a blind eye and treat this crisis lightly. Leniency will only allow this dangerous crime to flourish unchecked.
WWF has launched a global petition asking Thai Prime Minister to ban all ivory trade in Thailand in order to curb the illegal killing of African elephants. Thailand is the biggest unregulated ivory market in the world and a top driver of poaching and illegal trade.
Poaching statistics released by the South African government reveal 668 rhinos were slaughtered—a 50% increase over 2011 and a staggering 5000% increase since 2007. Already, an additional five rhinos have been killed since the beginning of this year.
A new report on the crisis of illegal wildlife trafficking details its unprecedented scale and global implications. Current global efforts to fight illegal wildlife trade are failing because wildlife crime is seen as an environmental problem first and then a criminal issue. At the same time, organized crime syndicates and rebel groups involved with wildlife crimes are increasing. Profits from wildlife trafficking could be used to purchase weapons, finance civil conflicts and underwrite terrorist-related activities.
Crawford Allan, Regional Director, TRAFFIC North America, has translated his passion for the natural world into a long and fulfilling career. While he has seen the impact of illegal killing of rare species first hand and uncovered illicit wildlife trade in blackmarkets in dozens of countries, he remains hopeful.
Rhino poaching crisis in South Africa is at an unprecedented level. A new report details how the fate of South Africa’s rhinos is inextricably linked with market demand in Vietnam—a country that recently saw its own rhino population slip into extinction.