Too many species are threatened with extinction as a result. Central Africa lost more than 60 per cent of its forest elephants between 2002 and 2011 alone. The demand for rhino horn - which is more expensive than gold - resulted in the extinction of Africa’s western black rhino in 2011 and threatens all five remaining species.
Illegal trafficking is the fourth largest global crime with an estimated street value of $US23 billion. Most participants are only involved for financial gain - but the impact to both habitats and humans is just as devastating.
"The demand for rhino horn - which is more expensive than gold - resulted in the extinction of Africa’s western black rhino in 2011”
Like all businesses, IWT is a function of supply and - more importantly - demand. A growing population and more affluent middle class across Asia and Latin America has increased the market for perceived luxury items - even if the purchasing these items leads to the extinction of a species and involves a high level of criminality.
And like all businesses, IWT exists on financial flows. And that’s where the global financial system can play a role.
Recognising the need to take greater measures in combatting IWT, United for Wildlife (UfW) works to tackle illegal wildlife trade by bringing together conservation organisations, governments and global corporations.
“Led by The Duke of Cambridge and The Royal Foundation, United for Wildlife is working to protect endangered species like elephants, rhinos, tigers and pangolins so they can share our world with future generations,” the Foundation says.
Three key projects have been established by UfW:
- Combining forces
- Demand reduction