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What is Wildlife Trafficking

‘This may start with the illicit exploitation of natural resources, such as the poaching of an elephant, uprooting of a rare orchid, unauthorized logging of trees, or unlicensed netting of sturgeons. It may also include subsequent acts, such as the processing of wildlife into products, their transportation, offer for sale, sale, possession, etc. It also includes the concealment and laundering of the financial benefits made out of these crimes. Some of these crimes will take place solely in the country of origin, whilst others will also occur in the country of destination, where live fauna or flora specimens, or their parts and derivatives, are finally consumed.

Animal trafficking is what happens when people transport animals unethically. The term is usually used when this transport is done against the law for the purposes of selling the animals, often in another state or country. While trafficking of domesticated animals, such as designer puppies, does happen, the term “animal trafficking” is most often used in the context of wild animals. Similarly, although farmed animals are transported for commercial purposes in ways that can reasonably be called unethical, for example from grow lots to slaughterhouses, the term “animal trafficking” typically excludes the transport of farmed animals.

Photomontage of young monkey inside a wooden cage

what are the Types of offences

Offences relating to wildlife trafficking cover a wide range of conduct and circumstances. Some offences concern protected species. Others relate to protected areas. Offences may relate to different stages and activities of wildlife trafficking, such as poaching, processing, exporting, importing, selling, et cetera. Some offences only apply to conduct that occurs inside the jurisdictions, others relate to cross-border activities.

A battered suitcase full of Tortoise shells being smuggled out of the country. Animal smuggling concept.

How to Stop Animal Trafficking

There is no magic bullet to stop animal trafficking, and it will require many different approaches, targeting specific areas of trade.
If you’re looking for a companion dog or other domesticated animal, seek out a local animal shelter, and avoid buying one online or from a pet store. Adopting a pet from a local shelter is a safer route for the long-term welfare of animal companions because it’s extremely difficult to know whether the breeder you’re purchasing an animal from is truly responsible. To help the animals during your leisure time, reconsider visiting a wildlife attraction, especially if it allows you to take pictures with wild animals, pet a tiger cub or get a ride on an elephant, pony, camel, or donkey. Know that by paying to do so while on holiday, you may be supporting the unethical breeding of such animals. Be careful when purchasing products that might be made of endangered species, like ivory, tortoiseshell, coral, or leather.

Elephant tusks

Penalties and sentencing

It is another question what sentences are actually imposed on persons convicted for wildlife trafficking related offences.
The types and severity of statutory penalties for wildlife trafficking differ considerably between different jurisdictions. While some countries limit penalties to small fines, others provide for long terms of imprisonment. Although quite exceptional – and questionable in light of international human rights obligations – some jurisdictions use penalties involving corporal or capital punishment for serious offences pertaining to wildlife trafficking The respective factors and their use vary between jurisdictions and legal systems and traditions.

Illegal trafficking of Panthera onca fangs in the Amazon supplies the black market in Amazonas, Brazil. Concept of nature, environment.


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