Issue of the Week: Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

2009-11-19 05.19.07Illegal trade in protected species is becoming one of the most lucrative markets in the world today and generates billions of dollars annually.  Large game such as rhinos and elephants are often the target of wildlife crime due to their rarity and criminal circuits are jumping at the chance to feed the high demand for exotic wildlife. These crimes thrive in areas where national income is low and border regulations are inconsistent. Illegal trade negatively impacts these country’s natural resources and the local communities that benefit from tourism or sustainable, legal trade.

Around the world, organizations are taking action to end this ongoing surge in wildlife trafficking. From internationally broadcasted ivory crushes, to local on-the-ground efforts, people are recognizing the issue and striving for a solution.  Governments are implementing stronger border regulations and law enforcement is issuing stronger punishments, but the problem is still rampant.

Some organizations believe that to stop illegal trade, the “value” placed on wildlife must be diminished. This is why an ivory crush has become a popular demonstration in multiple countries where illegal trade is prominent. It symbolizes the idea that ivory is worthless and can be reduced to dust.  Others believe that local efforts such as better patrolling and sustainable conservation strategies are the best ways to reduce this booming industry.

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SCI Foundation recognizes that hunters are the first line of defense against poachers, and we have invested in multiple projects.  Our most recent projects are occurring in Tanzania and Zambia. SCI Foundation has been working with the Friedkin Conservation Fund providing support for aerial surveillance in Tanzania since 2008. The Friedkin Conservation Fund was established for the purpose of conserving more than 6.1 million acres of Tanzania’s protected areas and works closely with the Wildlife Division of Tanzania on their anti-poaching operations.

In 2013, SCI Foundation partnered with Frankfurt Zoological Society, Grzimek’s Help for Threatened Wildlife, Houston Safari Club, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the North Luangwa Conservation Project in Zambia.  This large scale anti-poaching effort provides law enforcement support to North Luangwa National Park and all surrounding Game Management Areas. These partnerships are vital to SCI Foundation’s mission of conservation and are critical to the fight against poaching and wildlife trafficking.  More importantly, conservation efforts encourage sustainable-use of wildlife.

SCI Foundation will remain poised to assist and advise on how hunter-conservationists can continue to contribute as the strongest advocates for curtailing poaching and illicit trade in wildlife. Whatever the solution we are dedicated to ending this unlawful industry and promoting strategies that sustain our world’s most majestic wildlife.

Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more SCI Foundation news.

One Reply to “Issue of the Week: Illegal Wildlife Trafficking”

  1. Has any thought been given to the sale of illegal ivory rather then destroying it? This would help satisfy the World’s high demand for ivory. Which in turn would reduce the need for a black market to meet these demands. It would also generate much needed funds for future efforts to stop all poaching. I fail to see the value of destroying the ivory. In fact it would seem it only adds to the shortage of legal ivory on the world market. Thus helping to create a larger black market demand. The destruction of confiscated ivory is not part of the solution to stop the poaching. It only increases the poaching efforts to meet the demand.

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