Species are crucial for our survival. The ecosystems around us are designed to sustain our health and ensure that we live in balance. When we destroy these habitats, we compromise the very ecosystem services we depend on.
In addition to providing essential services, wildlife can provide significant economic benefits. Whether it is the medicinal value of endangered species or the non-consumptive benefits of visiting a national park, wildlife can benefit everyone.
However, the illegal trade in animals from the wild creates a powerful incentive for poachers to capture living animals. This leads to the extinction of many endangered species.
Wildlife is also threatened by climate change, pollution and land use changes. These actions degrade the biosphere and threaten the health of humans. A recent study estimated that one to two trillion dollars in damages are caused by wildlife crimes each year.
To protect these valuable species, wildlife crime needs to be addressed. It also impacts our security. Some researchers believe that the illegal trade in wildlife helps finance organized crime in Africa.
While it is difficult to gauge the full effects of these crimes, the World Bank estimates that they cost the global economy around $1 to 2 trillion dollars a year. Despite their importance, wildlife crime remains understudied.
The Global Wildlife Partnership has been launched to address the issue. Partner organizations include the International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime, the Secretariat of CITES, the Wildlife Conservation Society and WildAid.