With wildlife and forest crimes on the rise, yielding enormous profits for criminal networks, United Nations high-level officials at a major anti-crime meeting under way in Doha, Qatar, stressed the gravity of the scourge, saying that it fuels violence, corrupts supply chains and undermines the rule of law.
“Wildlife and forest crime…has the potential, not only to devastate the environment, but also to undermine the social, political and economic well-being of societies, while generating billions of dollars for criminal gangs and sustaining their illicit activities,” General Assembly President Sam Kutesa told a high-level event held as part of the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
Wildlife and forest crime includes the taking, trading, importing, exporting, processing, possessing, obtaining and consumption of flora and fauna (animals, birds, fish, plants and trees) in contravention to national and international law.
The impact of the crime is global, but wildlife and forest crime is particular acute in developing countries as under-resourced governments often lack the capacity to regulate the exploitation of their natural resources.
In 2013 alone, some 20,000 African elephants were slaughtered. In the same year, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed on the continent.