East Asia drives trade in wildlife parts, says report

July 28th, 2011 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 28 (IANS) East Asian markets drive illegal trade in wildlife parts, claims a new report.

Wildlife trade is becoming increasingly organised, strengthened by antiquated laws, a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) report says.

“We are failing to conserve some of the world’s most beloved and charismatic species,” said conservationist Elizabeth Bennett of WCS.

Organised crime syndicates using sophisticated smuggling operations have penetrated even previously secure wildlife populations. They are decimating the world’s most beloved species, including rhinoceros, tigers, and elephants, on a scale never before seen.

“We are rapidly losing big, spectacular animals to an entirely new type of trade driven by criminalized syndicates. It is deeply alarming, and the world is not yet taking it seriously,” added Bennet.

For example, South Africa lost almost 230 rhinoceros to poaching from January to October, 2010; and less than 3,500 tigers roam in the wild, occupying less than seven percent of their historic range.

Bennett pointed to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Asia, which has recently listed wildlife crime as one of their core focuses, and the potentially powerful International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime was signed into effect.

An immediate short-term solution to stave off local extinction of wildlife is through enforcement of wildlife laws, and to bring to bear a variety of resources to supersede those of the criminal organisations involved, said Bennett.

Some of the elaborate methods of trade include: hidden compartments in shipping containers; rapidly changing of smuggling routes; and the use of e-commerce, the locations of which, are difficult to detect, the journal Oryx reports.

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