Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) involves the illegal capture, collection, hunting, poaching, trade and smuggling of endangered, protected wildlife, derivatives and or its products. It is estimated that around 75% of newly emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses derived partly from illegally harvested and traded species (Wang et al., 2020). The 2002-2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS emerged from wet wildlife markets in China and subsequently spread worldwide caused by a zoonotic coronavirus. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the global COVID 19 pandemic are stark reminders of the global catastrophic impacts of trade in wildlife species.
For the past ten years, the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) has been working in partnership with civil society organisations in the Congo Basin to strengthen forest monitoring and law enforcement and to address some of the underlying governance drivers which perpetuate these crimes. In 2018, CIDT and partners began to explore the synergies with wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. As part of this effort, CIDT conducted a review of the literature on illegal wildlife trade (IWT), looking particularly at local, regional and global responses and tools to combat IWT and related crimes.
The review suggests that, given the failure of traditional regulatory and law enforcement options, complementary solutions need to be strengthened. These include a focus on alternative livelihoods; working with indigenous communities and civil society organisations on wildlife monitoring, investigations, and prosecution; and collaborative law enforcement with government agencies. The paper recommends significant targeted funding to fight corruption, improve transparency and strengthen government law enforcement capabilities as part of a post-COVID-19 recovery package.
Reference: Wang, H., Shao, J., Luo X, Chuai, Z., Xu, S., Geng, M and Gao, Z (2020) Wildlife consumption ban is insufficient, Science, 367 (6485) 1435, DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6463