The illegal trade in wildlife, which includes endangered species, illegal logging and fishing, is now the fourth largest criminal enterprise globally following drug smuggling, human trafficking and counterfeiting. According to a joint United Nations Environment-Interpol report, the illegal trade in wildlife is 26% higher than previously estimated, worth as much as USD $23 billion per year.

Veterans for Wildlife's 5-year strategic plan is centred on empowering veterans from around the globe and preventing wildlife crime, predominantly within Southern Africa. South Africa is home to approximately 93% of the world's white rhino and 40% of its black rhino. 

Tackling the illegal wildlife trade remains an urgent global issue. It contributes to dramatic declines in the populations of many protected species, found across all continents, from elephants, rhinos, grey parrots and pangolins to sturgeon and rosewood, as well as increasing the number of endangered species. Demand for illegal flora and fauna products spans multiple species and market drivers, and these pressures on wildlife populations are additional to, but not limited to, other pressures such as increasing human populations, change of land-use, pollution and changing environmental conditions. The illegal wildlife trade is often a highly organised, sophisticated criminal activity that is taking place on an industrial scale.

It is also a great threat to national and regional security, resulting in cross-border incursions with networks that support it often being the same as those that enable money-laundering, weapons, drugs and human trafficking including modern slavery.

The illegal trade in wildlife is severely impacting many species that are already threatened with extinction, as well as pushing other species into the endangered category. It fuels corruption which creates insecurity and undermines the rule of law, hampering opportunities for economic growth. Sustainable management of natural resources can contribute to the conservation of vital habitat and maintain the integrity of ecosystems, whilst engaging local communities, generating decent jobs and serving to combat the illegal wildlife trade.

Find out more about the impact wildlife crime is having on specific species such as the African Elephant and Rhino!