Organized Crime Wiping Out Wildlife
Criminal syndicates are wiping out wildlife and it's leading to catastrophic population declines and even local extinctions.
Sophisticated, organized criminal syndicates involved in the illegal trade of animal body parts are wiping out wildlife, to the point that several subspecies have already gone extinct, according to a paper in the journal Oryx.
The Sumatran rhinoceros is thought to have gone extinct in Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia due to poachers working in crime rings, and two subspecies of African rhino have suffered similar fates. Tigers, elephants, saiga antelopes, and even a little anteater known as the pangolin are all at dangerously low numbers due to relentless hunting by the criminals.
Author Elizabeth Bennett, vice president of species conservation for the Wildlife Conservation Society, told Discovery News that the crime syndicates "are likely to involve similar networks -- and even the same people -- as the organized crime networks involved in illicit arms and drugs smuggling. But they are networks, globally linked, like inter-connected spider webs."
She says numerous species are targeted, from turtles and snakes, along with much larger animals. Aside from people coveting exotic pets, many people believe in traditional "remedies." Rhino horns, for example, are mostly made of keratin, the same fibrous protein found in human hair and fingernails, but people in some cultures still think of them as an aphrodisiac.
The illegal wildlife trade would not exist were it not for such customer demand.
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She concluded, however, that "the core costs will always lie with governments, who have the legal authority to enforce…The governments of the key wildlife consuming nations for these high-end products are not poor, and could allocate additional resources to customs and others as needed. Developed country governments with good technical expertise could contribute that, as well as funds, to support less developed countries with the key wildlife needing protection."
So I read the conclusion -- is the government going to allocate more money to enforce against this illegal activity?