illegal wildlife trade
Around the world, wildlife crime is responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals a year. It is plainly wrong that the greed of those who fuel demand and facilitate the illegal wildlife trade stands to push some of the world's most iconic species to the brink of extinction - animals that have come to represent the whole idea of wildlife to young and old alike... It is scarcely believable to imagine a world without elephants, rhinos, lions or tigers. Yet time is running out to save these creatures from being consigned to the history books and to stories of days gone by.
When the UK is hosting a two day international summit on the illegal wildlife trade, involving two future kings of our country and world leaders from fifty nations, all invited by the prime minister, why does the Met police have a team of only five people to fight an illegal trade estimated to be worth $19billion a year? Isn't it time we got serious about this crime?
Current human demand also extends to elephant meat. This is not just a local subsistence issue. Elephant meat bound for Fresno California was seized by Thai enforcement officials in May 2103 and is just one example of the international demand for this 'exotic flavour'.
Joseph Kony personally gave orders to units of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo to slaughter elephants and bring him their tusks, according to eyewitness accounts and satellite evidence compiled by the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project.
Though the illicit wildlife trade is nowhere near as large and lucrative as drugs or arms, it is there: The fact that people don't feel the need to resort as much to the Dark Web to sell ivory suggests that too many loopholes in the law around wildlife trade are allowing people to disguise illegal products as though they are perfectly legal.
The tiger is one of the most iconic of wild animals. Sleek, magnificent and instantly recognisable, the tiger has become immortalised in the legends, values and lore of many human cultures. Works of William Blake, A.A. Milne and Walt Disney have established the tiger as an object of fascination and endearment.
The air is acrid and the flames are scorching the grass around this huge bonfire. I am in Gabon, central Africa, watching tonnes of elephant ivory go up in smoke. There are 1,293 elephant tusks and a huge amount of confiscated ivory that has been carved into a myriad of products fuelling the fire.