Welcome to the Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking

At this very moment, countless animals and plants teeter on the brink of extinction, all due to the devastating impact of wildlife trafficking. This insidious trade, after drug and human trafficking, is one of the largest illegal industries, estimated to be worth between $7-23 billion annually. These illicit activities often involve the same criminals, who engage in drug trafficking, human trafficking, and weapons smuggling, creating a web of criminality that threatens our planet and our society.

But the consequences extend far beyond endangering wildlife. Wildlife trafficking poses grave risks to human health and welfare. It creates conditions that enable the spillover of diseases and pandemics, damages the global economy, and fuels transnational criminal networks, government instability, and corruption. It is a crisis that demands our attention and action.

The Pervasive Threat of Online Wildlife Trade

In today's digital age, wildlife trafficking has seamlessly transitioned into the virtual realm. The internet, with its vast international marketplace, presents a virtually borderless platform, open 24/7, 365 days a year. It empowers wildlife traffickers with new avenues to exploit.

Greater online connectivity also fosters the emergence of new markets, particularly for pet and collector enthusiasts. A 2021 study revealed over 200 online listings of protected species offered for sale as pets. Demand for live turtles, tortoises, wild cats, and primates has surged over the past decade, endangering countless species.

The Suffering of Live Animals

Live animals pay a heavy toll in this trade. Their journey from the wild to a buyer can involve unimaginable suffering. Many of these trafficked animals endure brutal conditions during capture and transport, leading to their untimely deaths. In the past five years, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has refused clearance and seized or abandoned 48,793 individual live animals, highlighting the sheer scale of this crisis.

A global law enforcement operation in 2021, named Thunder 2021, uncovered hundreds of live reptiles, birds, and more than two dozen live big cats. Wildlife trafficking subjects live animals to unsanitary, dangerous, and stressful conditions, making them more likely to acquire and spread diseases. Few survive the journey, and those that do are sold to buyers ill-equipped to meet their basic needs.

The Southern California Confiscations Network

When live wildlife is seized at U.S. ports of entry or exit, their welfare becomes a priority. The Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network is a pioneering program that aims to reduce wildlife trafficking and support law enforcement. It provides a coordinated system to ensure the care and welfare of confiscated live wildlife, operating under the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

This network brings together zoos, aquariums, non-governmental organizations, universities, botanical gardens, and certified facilities of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries to ensure high standards of care for confiscated wildlife.

Join the Fight, Protect Our Wildlife

The fight against wildlife trafficking starts with you. Be an informed consumer; visit wildlifetraffickingalliance.org to learn and take action. Understand the devastating impact of this trade and how you can make a difference. 

Explore NotaPet.net to discover the true victims of wildlife trafficking and find out how you can reduce the demand for wild animals in the illegal pet trade.

If you suspect wildlife trafficking, report it. Contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Tips line at [email protected] or call 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477). Together, we can put an end to this devastating trade and safeguard our planet's incredible biodiversity.

Get involved locally by volunteering at LTB

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