By Melissa Jackson
Illegal wildlife trafficking is nearly a $20 billion dollar business and has yet to slow down. Areas such as South Florida and Southern California have been at the center of recent cases against the crime.
The constant cruelty and trade of animals is on an all time high. An app has been launched at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo in efforts to report suspicious activity of wildlife trafficking. Australian travelers in South East Asia are asked to do so.
“The illegal wildlife trade is now estimated to be worth just under $20 billion a year, so it’s up there with illegal arms trade and the illegal drug trade,” said Tarongo Zoo Director, Cameron Kerr.
Everything from eagle rays, piranhas, and rhinos have been a part of the uproar. Idaho aquarium in South Florida were fined for taking eagle rays and lemon sharks without permits. The aquarium received a $10,000 criminal fine and $50,000 must be given to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for work with corals and marine life in the Florida Keys.
A convicted narcotics dealer was recently caught for selling rhino horns, which is big business as well. Investigators are looking into the relationship between drug dealers and their need for animal trafficking.
“Ten years ago agents involved in undercover investigations could buy an entire horn for $7,000. Now agents are spending $25,000 a pound to buy illegal horns,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife deputy assistant director for law enforcement, Edward Grace.
A little over 1,000 rhinos were killed last year, more than 30,000 of elephants and even frogs. Six hundred and forty two people were arrested last year in Thailand alone for illegal trading.
Stanford students are lending their assistance to the Obama administration in efforts towards fighting against the crime that is spreading. The students have come up with legal tools to combat it and have covered a number of issues in a 69 page document.
Organizations as far as in the Republic of Congo, the Project for the Application of Law for Fauna (PALF) is working to abolish the trades which is popular there.
“PALF’s work to stop illegal wildlife trafficking by improving Congo’s legal system is more important than ever,” said Wildlife Conservative Society’s Executive Director for Africa programs. “Illegal wildlife trafficking has the potential to strip mine Congo of its world class and natural heritage. Only through tough law enforcement and stopping corruption can trafficking be eliminated.”