Published 29 August 2012

New campaign to tackle wildlife crime

Cambridge, UK, 29th August 2012—In response to record poaching levels of African Elephants and rhinos, TRAFFIC and programme partner WWF have launched a joint global campaign calling on governments to combat illegal wildlife trade and reduce demand for illicit endangered species products. 

Black Rhino at dawn © / Rilchard Du Toit / WWF-Canon

Demand for ivory, rhino horn and Tiger parts from consumer markets mostly in Asia has been escalating in recent years. 

A TRAFFIC report into the rhino poaching crisis released earlier this month documented how numbers of rhinos illegally killed in South Africa rose from 13 animals in 2007 to 448 in 2011. The animals are poached for their horns, which are smuggled to supply consumer markets in Asia, principally in Viet Nam. Already in 2012, 339 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa, with the projected total for the year is more than 500 animals at current rates. 

In June, a report by TRAFFIC and other organizations to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) revealed that 2011 was the worst year on record for large scale seizures of elephant ivory. China and Thailand were identified as the biggest consumer markets for illegally-trafficked ivory.

The same report, analysing data from the CITES MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) system estimated that tens of thousands of elephants are believed to be killed each year for their ivory tusks, the majority in Central Africa. 

A report by TRAFFIC in 2010 revealed that parts of at least 1,069 Tigers had been seized in Tiger range countries over the previous decade. Last week, the skins of eight Tigers were seized in Russia. In the last 100 years, the world has lost 97 per cent of its wild Tigers, including four sub-species to extinction. There may be as few as 3,200 of the endangered animals remaining. Habitat loss and the illegal killing for trade are the biggest factors in their decline. 

“Governments are largely ignoring the crisis affecting our endangered species. Throughout our global campaign, countries will hear directly from their constituents that the people expect better from them. The time to act is now while we can still save rhinos, tigers and elephants,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Conservation for WWF-International. 

“Illegal wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative international organized crimes, yet is not treated seriously by many governments,” said Sabri Zain, TRAFFIC’s Advocacy Director and co-leader of the WWF-TRAFFIC Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaign.

“Yet, the organized criminal syndicates behind the poaching are also destabilizing national security and putting the lives of park rangers at risk. It’s high time to end their activities once and for all.”


Big Wins in the War Against Wildlife Crime:  WWF/TRAFFIC Wildlife Trade Campaign Report. Summary 2012-2013