By Gero Schließ
Poaching and illegal animal trading are not only threats against animals but also for humans. Proceeds finance violence and terrorism. Now Germany and Gabon are demanding a UN resolution.
For Jams Leape, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), poaching is a deadly spiral of crime. "Elephants are being poached; their ivory is sold and in the end that finances the purchase of weapons," he told DW in an interview.
Three recent reports of international trading of wild animals highlight the severity of this issue. In Nepal, police arrested 14 alleged rhinoceros poachers; in Hong Kong elephant tusks worth 740,000 euros ($1 million) were seized from a shipment from Africa and in Kenya, customs found more than 1,600 ivory pieces hidden in sesame seeds.
Extinction of animal species feared
The black market for these animals is a "big business," according to Leape. Slaughtering protected animals such as elephants or rhinos in order to sell their tusks and horns on the international black market "is now one of the largest organized crime businesses in the world," he said.
The illegal poaching business is worth an estimated 14 billion euros ($19 billion) per year, a trend that is on the rise. "And you can see the effects on the ground. Estimates say we are losing more than 30,000 elephants every year," Leape said. "The elephant population in the Congo Basin in Central Africa has dropped 60 percent in the last decade."
The Congo Basin with its savannas and forests is considered Africa's "green lung" and is home to many wild animals. But rhino poaching has soared in the last several years. More....