By SM Mohd Idris
Devastating reports of wildlife poaching has once again surfaced in the media. Poaching is seen as a perennial problem as the report also illustrates that environmental crimes are among the most serious and profitable forms of transnational organised crime in Asia.
Many countries in the region are richer in natural resources than they are in their capacity to protect them. Growing local demand, as well as growing export markets, have placed great strain on resources unique to the region. Criminal opportunists have placed the global environmental heritage in jeopardy.
These criminal networks operate with no respect to borders. Globalisation permits trafficking groups to operate seamlessly across borders. The Government needs to understand the nature and dimensions of the threat, and this is no easy task. The supply of wildlife is not infinite and its trade requires tight and rigorous regulation.
While the illegal trade in wildlife is a major threat to biodiversity, it also provides a significant source of profit for criminals. By distorting and undercutting legitimate commerce, it can cause economic and social disruption. Furthermore, the high level of corruption underpinning this illegal activity poses a serious threat to national governance.
China with its population growth and burgeoning affluence has led to rising demand for exotic and luxury products including wildlife products. Being the region’s largest economy and the largest consumer market for wildlife either as food or as traditional medicines, it has posed a threat to many iconic species like tigers, rhinoceros, elephants, and pangolins well-known globally. Yet, there are many more mammals, reptiles, marine species and plants that have declined drastically. Unfortunately, for these species, there is very limited public awareness. Consequently, protection is weak. More....