Crime: track illegal trade in wildlife

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Illegal wildlife trade is the second-largest black market worldwide, after narcotics. More effective strategies must be devised to intercept the first links of the wildlife-trade chain and beyond.

A lack of resources in tropical countries often undermines existing legal frameworks for preventing wildlife trading. Local governments pay scant attention to the trade because it is not perceived as a major threat to biodiversity or to human well-being. A large volume of wildlife trade is international — increasing the risk of biological invasions and of spreading zoonotic diseases.

National environmental agencies should collaborate to centralize the collection and organization of local data to feed into international wildlife-trade databases such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This would help to identify the species that are most threatened by trade, determine major harvesting sites and routes, and locate sources of demand and supply — as well as revealing the extent of enforcement and of currently unreported shipments. Governments from developing and developed nations could then weigh in with policy improvements.

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  1. State University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.

    • Luís Felipe Toledo
  2. Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), Venezuela; and EcoHealth Alliance, New York, USA.

    • Marianne V. Asmüssen &
    • Jon Paul Rodríguez

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