The Wildlife Crime Report 2020, which was released this afternoon points out that the poachers have increasingly threatened pangolins, birds, turtles, tigers and bears which are poached from their natural habitat, butchered and sold illegally.
Rescued orphan elephants at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that wildlife crime is a
threat not only to the environment but to human health.
The Wildlife Crime Report 2020, which was released this afternoon points
out that the poachers have increasingly threatened pangolins, birds, turtles,
tigers and bears which are poached from their natural habitat, butchered and
As a result, the report adds, the world is threatened
with zoonotic diseases - those caused by pathogens that spread from animals to
humans. Such Zoonotic diseases represent up to 75 per cent of all
emerging infectious diseases and include the new coronavirus that caused the
“Products offered from the trafficked species
for human consumption, by definition escape any hygiene or sanitary control
posing even greater risks of infectious diseases,” the report reads. Pangolins which were identified as a
potential source of coronaviruses are the most trafficked wild mammals in the
world, with seizures of pangolin scales having increased tenfold between 2014
and in 2018.
The report draws heavily on
UNODC’s World WISE database, which contains almost 180,000 seizures from 149
countries and territories. The database shows that nearly 6,000 species have
been seized between 1999-2019, including not only mammals but reptiles, corals,
birds, and fish.
Although it identified no single country as the source of more
than 9 per cent of the total number of seized shipments, suspected traffickers
represented roughly 150 nationalities, underscoring the global nature of these
“Transnational organized crime
networks are reaping the profits of wildlife crime, but it is the poor who are
paying the price,” said Ghada Waly, the Executive Director at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) which produced the report.
The report also analyzes markets
for illicit rosewood, ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, live reptiles, big
cats and the European eel. Trends show that demand for African ivory and rhino horn is in decline,
indicating that the market for them is smaller than previously suggested. It is
estimated that these two items generated more than USD 600 million annually between 2016 and
At the same time, seizures of
tiger products have also been on the rise, alongside traffickers’ interest in
other big cat parts that can serve as substitutes. Wildlife trade has also gone digital, with traffickers selling
live reptiles and tiger bone products, among other products, through online
platforms and encrypted messaging apps.
UNODC believes stopping wildlife
crime is critical to protecting biodiversity and the rule of law, but also for
preventing future public health emergencies. The report outlines the need for
stronger criminal justice systems and improved international cooperation and
cross-border investigations, among other measures.
“The 2020 World Wildlife Crime
Report can help to keep this threat high on the international agenda and
increase support for governments to adopt the necessary legislation, and
develop the inter-agency coordination and capacities needed to tackle wildlife