Wildlife smuggling

Wildlife smuggling or trafficking involves the illegal gathering, transportation, and distribution of animals and their derivatives. This can be done either internationally or domestically. Estimates of the money generated by wildlife smuggling vary, in part because of its illegal nature. "Wildlife smuggling is estimated at $7.8bn to $10bn a year, according to the U.S. State Department.[1] The U.S. State Department also lists wildlife trafficking as the third most valuable illicit commerce in the world."[2] The illegal nature of such activities makes determining the amount of money involved incredibly difficult. When considered with illegal timber and fisheries, wildlife trafficking is a major illegal trade along with narcotics, human trafficking, and counterfeit products.[3][4]

Confiscated wildlife products at JFK Airport

Products demanded by the trade include exotic pets, food, traditional medicine, clothing, and jewelry made from animals' tusks, fins, skins, shells, horns, and internal organs. Smuggled wildlife is an increasing global demand; it is estimated that the US, China, and the European Union are the places with the highest demand.[5]