4,000 animal and plant species affected by smuggling worldwide

Vienna: Wildlife trafficking has not substantially reduced over the past two decades, despite positive signs in reducing trafficking of iconic species like elephant and rhino, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported in Vienna on Monday.

“The global scope and scale of wildlife crime remain substantial with seizures during 2015–2021 indicating an illegal trade in 162 countries and territories affecting around 4,000 plant and animal species,” the office’s third edition of the World Wildlife Crime Report says.

During the six-year period, around 13 million individual animals and plants had been seized that had been intended for use as food, medication or luxury items. More than 16,000 tons of illicit goods, such as wood, had also been confiscated, it said.

The UNODC stressed that the true figures were considerably higher.

The UN office added that beyond the conservation threat to target species, population reductions could trigger ecosystem-level impacts by disturbing interdependencies and undermining functions and processes, “including those important to climate change resilience and mitigation.”

It noted that some of the species worse affected, including rare orchids, succulents, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals, received little public attention, though wildlife trafficking had played a major role in their local or global extinctions.

“Wildlife crime also threatens the socioeconomic benefits people derive from nature, whether as a source of income, employment, food, medicine or other values. It further corrodes good governance and the rule of law through corruption, money-laundering and illicit financial flows,” the agency said.


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