By Elissa Poma
Dozens of customs officials bust through the door of a remote and quaint-looking farmhouse. The first thing Crawford Allan sees when he enters following the raid? A preserved chimpanzee head on a table in the living room, a macabre trinket on display like a family heirloom.
It’s an image that flashes in Allan’s mind when he’s falling asleep at night. But it’s also a memory that continues to fuel his two decade-long battle against wildlife trafficking.
Allan serves as senior director of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade network run jointly by WWF and the World Conservation Union. In this interview with Good Nature Travel, Allan discusses the continued impact of wildlife crime on people and natural resources around the world and shines light on some of WWF’s recent accomplishments fighting wildlife crime.
Q: What is the impact of wildlife trafficking on people around the world?
Crawford Allan: Wildlife trafficking has a major impact on people and natural resources and the environment for a number of reasons, one being that it affects national security. The poaching and trafficking of things like elephant ivory in Africa are funding groups linked to terror.
Wildlife trafficking also undermines social standing, sustainability, incomes, revenues and livelihoods for people in some of the poorest countries of the world, as their natural resources are stolen from them by criminal syndicates that are profiting from extinction.
Q: What is causing the recent surge in wildlife crime?
A: This unprecedented surge we’ve seen over the past couple of years or so is driven ultimately by greed—greed of criminal syndicates who have moved in and are profiteering. Also, they are pandering to newfound wealth and new affluence—this strange, mythical belief that certain animal products like rhino horn will cure disease or help you succeed socially by buying people an item of social standing, like rhino horn or ivory, as a gift.
It’s a dynamic that is double edged. It’s great that there’s economic development and increased wealth in countries like China, but unfortunately some of the purchasing decisions being made by those people are really misguided. More....