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Wildlife crime pays off big time

The Institute for Security Studies has ranked wildlife crime the fourth most lucrative form of organised crime globally and one of the most expensive security challenges facing Southern Africa.
It said most of the available data on wildlife crime focused on poaching and smuggling, resulting in an emphasis on securing national parks and patrolling borders. More information was needed on curbing demand and understanding how organised crime networks operated.

This led to establishing a pilot project, Enact (Enhancing Africa's capacity to respond to transnational organised crime), in partnership with the Global Initiative Against Organised Crime, and Interpol.

Researcher Ciara Aucoin said data were gleaned from media reports. She said the pilot study covered how poachers were recruited and armed, how the smuggling networks operated, the extent of overlap between groups, and the products they worked with. The pilot phase of the study covered 10 countries between 2000 and 2016, focusing on the poaching, smuggling and possession of protected species.

Preliminary findings at a glance:

  • A total of 1035 wildlife crimes were recorded between 2000 and 2016;
  • South Africa recorded the most incidents, followed by Zimbabwe and Namibia;
  • China, Hong Kong and Vietnam topped the list of destination countries;
  • Firearms (usually hunting rifles) were commonly used;
  • The police, customs officials or other officials were perpetrators in 5% of incidents; and
  • The top five illegally possessed, poached, or smuggled species or body parts were rhino horn, elephant tusk, abalone, pangolin, and big cats.

Source: The Times


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