Flora and fauna are a gift to our planet, and the ecosystem balance highly depends on their presence. However, our plants and animals are at risk due to wildlife crimes.
They face regular threats because of unethical criminal activities. Wildlife crimes range from hunting animals like elephants for ivory to smuggling endangered plants and animal species for money. And these activities are not only confined to a particular country but internationally.
So, to ensure wildlife protection from exploitation, an international approach is required.
What does Wildlife include?
Wildlife includes all wild flora and fauna, including birds, animals, fish, timber, and non-timber forest products.
What does Wildlife Crime refer to?
Wildlife crimes include activities like importing, exporting, trafficking, processing, possessing, and consuming of wild flora and fauna, including timber and several other forest products, against national and international laws.
What are the Causes of the Rise of Wildlife Crimes?
With the rise in the human population, the demand for wildlife products has grown manifolds. In many countries, people follow a lifestyle that prompts the usage of such products. There is a massive demand for leather goods, seafood, textiles, and medicinal materials. Also, there is severe poverty worldwide. In such a scenario, many people indulge in wildlife trading to earn a livelihood.
Cause #1: Rising Demand
Worldwide especially in Asia, the demand for elephant ivory, rhino horn, and tiger products is rising, and they are sold at extremely high prices. Also, there are various myths that certain animal or plant products can cure life-threatening diseases. For example, like in Vietnam, rhino horn can cure cancer, which has resulted in immense hunting in South Africa and has also increased its price.
Cause #2: Weak Judicial System
Gaps in protection laws, corruption, and light punishments for such activities boost the confidence of criminals. The poaching rate has increased manifolds as these people have no fear of the consequences. For them, the risk involved is lower than the profits. Also, the real poachers and their network often come out safe and again cause harm to the wildlife and innocent locals.
Cause #3: High-Profit Margins
Wildlife species offer incredibly high-profit margins, and if the species fall into the rarely available category, the prices further shoot up. The lust to earn more also leads to the extinction of these rare species as nature cannot produce more of them at the speed the humans consume them.
Consequences of Wildlife Crimes
Wildlife crime is not a new term, and it has been in practice for decades. However, there has been a sharp increase in how this illicit activity has grown.
• Wildlife crimes pose a serious threat to countries regarding depletion of natural resources, political stability, security, cultural heritage, and economy.
• Many nations depend on natural resources for their livelihood, and their destruction affects rural communities’ economic growth in a big way.
• Law enforcement agencies globally face the challenge of fighting against wildlife crime due to innovative ways implemented by organized crime groups to commit the crime.
Challenges faced by Law Enforcement
The crime groups’ activities span national boundaries and continents. Hence, law enforcement national agencies have to face various challenges while addressing the crime due to its complex nature.
A few challenges include:
• Poor governance and laws
• Lack of training and equipment
• Inaccessible forensic science support
• Lack of awareness about wildlife crimes
• Poor utilization of special investigative techniques
• Inequality among wildlife law enforcement officers & police and customs officers
Species that suffered a lot due to Wildlife Crimes
• African elephant
• Amur leopard
• Black rhino
• Green turtle
• Hawksbill turtle
• Indian elephant
• Javan rhino
• Leatherback turtle
• Sumatran rhino
• Sunda tiger
• White rhino
Wildlife crime is a serious issue that results in the depletion of the nation’s natural resources that affects the nation’s economic growth, especially for local communities and rural people.
As wildlife crimes are diversified in nature, the present laws to tackle such crimes are inadequate and need to be revised as per the current and national requirements according to public safety, human rights, and offender rights.
Wildlife forensics has gained recognition in the present scenario as a relatively new field of criminal investigation. Its primary purpose is to identify, examine, and compare crime scene evidence and associate it with a suspect and a victim, which in this case is an animal or any other endangered wildlife species.
So, if you have an inclination toward flora and fauna and want to contribute to their prevention by helping law enforcement agencies in convicting criminals, you should check out the wildlife forensics professional course offered by SIFS India and enrol to get trained by experts.