By Satyen Sinha
Every time I read a report on the state of wildlife, I seem to be faced with the news of yet more dead animals poached for their ivory, skins or other derivatives to feed an unrelenting global market. The market for species such as elephants has grown to become a massive global industry. Europol has highlighted that revenues generated by the trafficking of endangered species is estimated at 18 to 26 billion euros per year, with the EU used as both a market and transit route for illegal wildlife trade.
Despite this, I have recently become hopeful that European countries can and will play their part in stopping this slaughter. This hope stems from a number of decisions that have been taken recently.
Over the past few months the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering has been looking into the issue of wildlife crime as part of its broader remit.
For many years it has been argued that much of the global illegal trade in wildlife is run by organised crime syndicates that carry out detailed planning; have significant financial support; understand and utilise new information technology; and are often well armed.
Organised crime groups, especially those with smuggling capabilities, find wildlife trafficking attractive because of its low risks, high profits, and weak penalties.
During their investigation, the Committee learned how those involved in high-level drugs trafficking in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have established a notable role in the illegal supply of endangered species to the EU and US markets. More....