Friday, September 26, 2014

Illegal trade in protected species

The NY Times ran a recent story on the crime lab in Ashland Oregon that handles cases related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Animal Traffic

"The lab has been described as “Scotland Yard for animals” and ” ‘CSI’ meets ‘Doctor Dolittle.’ ”
"Wildlife crime has grown to a $19 billion dollar annual global trade, according to a report released last year by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a conservation nonprofit. The black market in wildlife parts and products is the fourth-largest illegal industry worldwide, behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, and it may well outstrip other illicit enterprises in terms of the variety of crimes and the complexities they pose for law enforcement. The wildlife trade encompasses culinary delicacies and Asian medicines, pets and hunting trophies, clothing and jewelry. It takes in commodities such as elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn, bushmeat, the shells of giant tortoises, the pelts of big-game cats. The environmental and social costs of the trade are grave. Wildlife crime is contributing to the erosion of natural resources and the spread of infectious diseases; it is providing robust new revenue streams for criminal syndicates and even terrorists. In a July 2013 executive order enhancing United States government coordination to combat wildlife crime, President Obama deemed the surge in poaching and trafficking an “international crisis” that is “fueling instability and undermining security.”

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