WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The illegal wildlife trade is not only detrimental to many of the world's endangered species, but also poses a genuine threat to national and global security, a new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) asserts.
With today's release of the report Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of The Illegal Wildlife Trade, IFAW is one of the first organizations to publicly link the escalating poaching crisis to global security.
"Those involved in animal welfare and conservation efforts have recognized the connection between increased poaching and worldwide insecurity," said Beth Allgood, IFAW Campaigns Manager. "This report provides sufficient evidence to convince decision makers that this association requires further investigation and action."
The report contends that the unprecedented poaching levels and sophisticated smuggling capabilities are indicative of organized criminal activity – severely compromising the security of wildlife rangers and entire communities.
"Criminals are attracted to wildlife trafficking for the huge profits and lax penalties," Allgood added. "Often, the proceeds are used to fund well-armed rebel and militia groups who are willing to slaughter imperiled species and kill thousands of people to obtain elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife parts."
The illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion per year. It ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
"The U.S. is the second largest market for wildlife products in the world," noted Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, IFAW. "We need to raise awareness and urge consumers to think twice before buying products made from endangered species."
In addition to the growing demand for wildlife products, other factors contributing to the proliferation of the illegal wildlife trade are inadequate regulations, lack of enforcement, online marketplaces and the legal wildlife trade.
Allgood adds: "IFAW is working to extinguish this illicit trade by tackling all the links on the trafficking chain – in source, transit and end-user nations. We believe that global action at the highest levels is necessary to save imperiled wildlife while contributing to a safer world for people."
To view and download a full copy of Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of The Illegal Wildlife Trade, please visit www.ifaw.org/stopwildlifecrime
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare