The international wildlife trade is a serious conservation problem, addressed by the United Nations' Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (known as CITES), which currently has 175 member countries called Parties.
Areas of focus
Seizures and enforcement
Exotic birds trade
Ornamental plants trade
Exotic fish trade
Trophies and household effects
Governmental gifts/ souvenirs
Captive breeding requirements
Artificially propagated requirements
Domestic trade of indigenous species
Possession of imported/ re-exported species
Exchanging CITES-listed specimens for scientific purposes
Alien invasive species
For general information about wildlife trade and conservation kindly contact the CITES Lead Management Authorities Malaysia (LMA) on email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The legal wildlife trade includes ONLY those species that are not listed in any of the three CITES Appendices, and for those with permits and certificates for import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea purposes, which have been issued by the CITES Management Authorities of the respective countries. At the moment, The United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP–WCMC
) manages a trade database on behalf of the CITES Secretariat, where records of trade in wildlife and scientific names of taxa listed by CITES are reported annually.
Illegal wildlife trade
Hunting for the illegal wildlife trade has the greatest potential to do maximum harm in minimal time, and is a serious threat to a number of endangered and vulnerable species. Illegal wildlife trade and contraband includes live pets, hunting trophies, fashion accessories, cultural artefacts, ingredients for traditional medicines, and wild meat for human consumption. Bush meat trade is considered illegal when imports occur in contravention CITES, the national laws on import and export, the national quarantine laws, the national animal laws and other laws that are in relations to the international trade and consumptions of the endangered wildlife.
Illegal wildlife trade is broadly defined as an environmental crime, which directly harms the environment. Wildlife trafficking is driven by organised groups who exploit natural resources and endanger threatened species and ecosystems in contravention of CITES. Environmental crimes by their very nature are trans-boundary, using porous borders, and involve cross-border criminal syndicates characterised by irregular migration, money laundering, corruption and the exploitation of disadvantaged communities.
The links between wealth, poverty and engagement in the wildlife trade are complex: people involved in the trade are not necessarily poor, and the poor who are involved do not capture the majority of the trade’s monetary value. In 2002, the illegal wildlife trade was estimated it to be the second largest illegal trade, second only to the drugs trade, with a value of at least £10 billion (RM60 billion). In 2008, it was estimated that it is worth at least $5 billion (RM15.5 million), and may potentially total in excess of $20 billion annually (RM62 billion). This ranks the illegal wildlife trade as among the most lucrative illicit economies in the world, behind illegal drugs and possibly human trafficking and arms trafficking. Due to its clandestine nature, the illegal trade is difficult to quantify with any accuracy. Potential areas of market growth include the Internet/ e-commerce, where traders use chat rooms and auction websites to engage in illicit wildlife sales.5
Illegal Wildlife Trade In Asia
A substantial portion of the global illegal wildlife trade — possibly the largest in the world — takes place in Asia, where demand is driven by the need for specific animal parts to practice traditional Asian medicine, for human consumption, and as symbols of wealth. Demand for illegal wildlife is reportedly increasing in Southeast Asia due in part to the region’s economic boom and resulting affluence. According to some observations, Southeast Asia is also a key supplier of wildlife products to the world. 5
Nowell, K., Jackson, P. (1996) Wild Cats: status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.
Banks, D., Davies, C., Gosling, J., Newman, J., Rice, M., Wadley, J., Walravens, F. (2008) Environmental Crime. A threat to our future. Environmental Investigation Agency
TRAFFIC (2008) What’s Driving the Wildlife Trade? A Review of Expert Opinion on Economic and Social Drivers of the Wildlife Trade and Trade Control Efforts in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. East Asia and Pacific Region Sustainable Development Discussion Papers. East Asia and Pacific Region Sustainable Development Department, World Bank, Washington, DC.
Vince, G. (2002) Organised gangs target wildlife trade. New Scientist, June 17, 2002.