In the last three years, the world has faced crisis levels of wildlife poaching and trafficking. Stories of poachers armed with automatic weapons carrying out coordinated attacks on herds of elephants make headlines every other week. Rhino horns estimated to be worth $100,000-300,000 led to the death of thousands of rhinos in South Africa in the past few years, a dramatic increase since the thirteen deaths in 2007. The increasingly sophisticated and large-scale nature of the attacks indicated that wildlife trafficking had escalated from a conservation issue to a worldwide criminal enterprise that was connected to terrorism. Driven by the sharp rise in demand for rare wildlife products in countries like China and Vietnam, the wildlife trade is estimated to be worth $19 billion. It is the fourth largest worldwide criminal trade, lagging behind only drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
It is clear that we are at a crossroads where we must choose between taking apart the illegal wildlife network, or letting the last few species of mega-fauna slip into extinction. Wildlife Alliance believes, now more than ever, that direct action is required to hinder wildlife crime. Since 2001, we have rescued more than 61,000 animals from poachers and illegal wildlife traders, and have dramatically driven down the buying and selling of wildlife in Cambodia. It is critical for us to make 2015 a year of increased cross-border communication and cooperation. Wildlife trafficking is not just a regional problem – but a global issue with ramifications of massive proportions. Wildlife Alliance has proven that its approach to cracking down on this illegal trade is effective and in 2015 we hope to share these successes with our neighbors and counterparts in a coordinated effort to end wildlife poaching and trafficking once and for all.