In The Spotlight: Illegal Wildlife Trade

By Lucy Lei, GIELR Online Staff Editor


Currently valued at US $213 billion, wildlife crime has escalated dramatically in recent years, and many species are in crisis as a result of poaching and illegal trafficking of their parts. The magnitude of the problem is particularly prominent in African countries with elephant and rhino populations. In this year alone, more than 700 rhinos have been killed in South Africa for their horns, partly as a consequence of many Asian countries using rhino horns as part of traditional medicine. Likewise, more than 35,000 elephants are killed across Africa each year for their tusks, which are prized for their use in making decorations and trinkets.

Even more troubling is the current trend in poaching carried out by organized criminal groups rather than poor villagers who kill the occasional animal to help feed their families. Income from ivory allegedly supports militia groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, which some may recognize as the group led by Joseph Kony.

* Published in collaboration with the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (GIELR). To read more, check out GIELR's blog here.