There are increased cases of wildlife crimes in the world. Trafficking of wildlife is among the internationally organized crimes that threaten the existence of different plants and animal species. In dealing with the crime, the international organizations consider the markets associated with wildlife products and the areas where animal poaching is rampant. Efforts by international organizations have been less effective in the fight against wildlife crimes. There is a need to assess the nature of the wildlife crimes and the various efforts of fighting the crimes with the aim of developing possible solutions to the issue of the international war on wildlife crimes.
The lack of investment by some countries in measures that seek to reduce wildlife crime is a matter of international concern. The United Nations, out of concern, declared the illicit trade of flora and fauna as a serious transnational crime (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2008). In most instances, this type of environmental crime is organized and executed by influential individuals, making it difficult for the authorities to take appropriate actions. Some developing nations are slow to conduct investigations and apprehend criminals involved in this type of trade. As a result, there is a slow global reaction on the issue of wildlife crimes.
Although the United Nations declared the illicit trade a matter of concern, it is essential to ask ourselves what the international body did to address the issue. The majority of the developing nations are yet to address economic issues, and others are still facing serious issues of political instability. For instance, there is a need to assist these countries financially to help them address the issue of wildlife crimes. In addition, the international police should forge relationships with the local law enforcers to address the issue of powerful individuals who the respective countries might be reluctant to prosecute.
Typically, some communities view wildlife crimes as a low-priority issue. As a result. There are less incentives to develop measures that address illegal poaching and other activities such as the ivory trade. Criminals take advantage of the situation to organize and execute their illegal activities (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2008). Selling animal skins and other products is highly profitable and less risky for the offenders. This phenomenon answers the question of the incentives that motivate wildlife crimes. In some other nations, poachers are less worried about getting arrested as they are assured of bribing their way out. In other instances, the offenders manage to smuggle the products into different countries by bribing the law enforcers.
Another factor facilitating wildlife crimes is the availability of markets for animal products. China, for instance, offers the largest market for tiger and leopard skins (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2008). The skins are locally used for home decor and clothing. There are reports that visitor in china buys animal skins and smuggle them out in bags with less fear of getting intercepted by the authorities (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2008). Reports further indicate that most of the illegal animal products available in China are sourced from Nepal and India through the ancient trade routes.
The issue of one nation offering markets for products deemed as illegal is confusing in the war against wildlife crimes. One might, for instance, wonder what the international community has to say about China for relaxing its laws to allow such trades. If there were no market for the products, poachers would be less motivated to kill wild animals. In addition, if all the countries united efforts in monitoring the wildlife and enhancing border surveillance, criminals would be afraid to transport illegal animal products. China’s activities cast doubts over the world’s determination to end wildlife crimes.
The porous border makes it easier for the illicit wildlife trade to take place. International organizations can, however, do much to handle such situations. For example, the intelligence agencies across the nations and the international police should cooperate in gathering information about the origin of the animal products in transit and handle the respective governments into account. There could be a possibility that even though few known nations openly disregard the international guidelines on wildlife, some of the developed nations are taking part in the trade. Intelligence would help identify such nations and develop stricter measures to address the situation in the respective countries.
Some of the criminals involved in poaching and handling wildlife products have been arrested and prosecuted from the time the United Nations proposed stricter measures to deal with the wildlife crimes. However, the methods have not been effective as some of the criminals arrested are released on bail (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2008). With the experience they have, the criminals go on to commit similar crimes or aid smugglers in executing their missions. The repeated offences make the vice dangerous as the perpetrators are more experienced, and in most cases, they outsmart the law enforcers.
The easiness of repeating the wildlife crimes raises questions about the nature of laws to control the endangered species. For instance, lawmakers should consider categorizing wildlife crimes as among the most serious crimes in the country. However, categorizing such crimes as the most serious may mean that the criminals are mishandled, and in some instances, they may be denied bail. One might argue that the measures are keener on observing animal rights than human rights. The governments need to consider a balance between the rights of animals and those of human beings. Criminals associated with wildlife crimes should for, instance, be put under house arrest until their cases are heard and determined instead of allowing them out on bail. The process will be effective in preventing repeat offences.
The data shared nationally involves isolated cases of wildlife crimes. It is rare to have a joint statement from international findings of related wildlife crimes (Environmental Investigation Agency, 2008). The lack of international coordination in investigations is a sign that there could be an organized transnational criminal network that oversees the execution of wildlife crimes and that the network involves powerful individuals who can easily avoid the international police dragnet. Tightening the international laws and regulations would be critical in dealing with police officers who witness wildlife crimes and do less about it.
Organized crime groups are flexible and can easily change their activities to circumvent the laws regulating wildlife crimes. These groups of people are well connected in society and have the backing of some of the most prominent people in the community. Any efforts by the authorities to reduce the criminals’ profits are met with a new behavior that ensures that criminals do not get out of the illegal trade market (“United Nations”, 2020). Different countries have different policies that regulate illicit trade. Criminals take advantage of the legal differences and major their activities in areas where the legal requirements are less strict.
Illicit wildlife markets are like any other markets in terms of the forces driving the demands and prices of the products. Increased surveillance and tightened laws regulating the illicit wildlife trade result in increased product prices (“United Nations”, 2020). The increased prices explain why illegal activities are on the rise in the least developed nations and some developed countries. There are high returns associated with the trade, which motivates more people to join the illegal market. The explanation leads to the question of what needs to be done to ensure equal international measures to curb the rising wildlife crimes.
It is observed that when one geographical area tightens the laws regulating wildlife, criminals shift their activities to countries where regulations are less strict. Joint efforts by the world governments would ensure that there are no places for criminals to conduct their activities. If the penalties are the same across the nations and the measures to curb the crimes are harmonized, there would be no market for the products. Heightening border security worldwide will be a critical step towards reducing the transportation of the products and reducing wildlife crimes.
Other than the desire to make profits, some people kill the wild animals for personal use or consider them as a nuisance. In most cases, residents engage in retaliatory killings of animals such as lions, elephants, and leopards (Pires & Moreto, 2016). An animal might, for instance, get out of the restricted areas and invade the public killing domestic animals and destroying crops. People, out of anger, engage and kill the animal. Most of these activities are ignored by the law enforcers who might agree with the residents’ actions.
In a situation where residents kill animals as a retaliatory measure, there are questions on who is to blame. On one side, the authorities are to blame for failing to restrict the animals into their respective areas. On the other hand, the residents should be blamed for engaging in the animal’s killing. Enlightening the public about animal rights and reminding people how to react to animal invasion would be a step toward preserving wildlife.
Overall, the efforts by international organizations to address wildlife crimes have not produced the desired effects. Despite the heightened surveillance, criminals still take advantage of the legal lapses to engage in wildlife trafficking. Some countries have been reluctant to address the issue, while others lack the resources to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. Corruption is one of the primary threats to the fight against the international war on wildlife crimes. Nations across the world need to collaborate and form a joint response on the issue of wildlife crimes.
Environmental Investigation Agency. (2008). ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME; A threat to our future. London.
United Nations. (2020). https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/wildlife/2020/World_Wildlife_Report_2020_9July.pdf
Pires, S., & Moreto, W. (2016). The Illegal Wildlife Trade. Oxford Handbooks Online. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhbs/9780199935383.013.161