Environmental Threats

Statistics and information about criminal threats to the environment. Illegal logging, illegal fishing, smuggling and other environmental destruction committed by organized crime is collected from wildlife charities and public information sources.

Security officials in Nigeria reported that they destroyed 748 illegal refineries in the region in the first four months of 2013. In addition to breaking down the refineries, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta arrested 498 suspects who were involved in oil theft and oil bunkering. 55 suspected kidnappers were also arrested during the operations.

545 boats, 26 barges and 18 vessels were also seized.

Source:  “Nigeria: Oil Theft – JTF Destroys 748 Illegal Refineries, Arrests 498 Suspects,” All Africa, May 7, 2013.

According to a report by Oceana, the annual catch of Sockeye Salmon in Russia is estimated to be 60 to 90 percent higher than the reported levels due to illegal fishing methods. The illegal haul creates a loss of $40 Million to $74 Million.

Source:  Deborah Zabarenko, “Fish piracy costs $10 billion to $23 billion a year -report,” Reuters, May 8, 2013.

According to wildlife charities, between 3,500 to 5,000 manta rays are killed each year for their gills.

A fisherman in Asia is able to make up to $40 for each Manta ray gill that he sells. The dried gills end up in China being sold for up to $2,000.

The estimated value of the illegal trade in Manta rays is between $5 Million to $10 Million a year. In areas where the Manta ray are living, the economic value of the species to the tourism industry is worth $100 Million.

In the waters off of Indonesia, the population of Manta rays has declined by 56 percent. In Sri Lanka, the population has declined by 86 percent.

Source:  Damian Carrington, “Manta rays: how illegal trade eats its own lunch,” Guardian, Environment Blog, March 5, 2013.

The number of wildlife smuggling cases in India detected by the Wildlife Crimes Control Bureau has been steadily increase over 3 years.

In 2009-2010, the bureau identified 205 cases of wildlife being smuggled by traffickers into the black market. In 2010-2011, the number of smuggling incidents increased to 245, and rose again in 2011-2012 to 312.

Media in the country reported that over a thousand websites were involved in selling endangered animals online.

Source:  Akhila Vijayaraghavan, “The shady business of online wildlife trade,” Mongbay.com, April 30, 2013.

The illegal trade in wildlife, animals and other endangered speicies in the East Asia and the Pacific region is estimated to be valued at $2.5 Billion a year, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The ilegal trade in marine wildlife in the region is valued at $850 Million a year.

(Price list of endangered animals.)

Source: “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page viii.


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the value of logging traded out of East Asia and the Pacific that was unlicensed is worth $17 Billion. The amount of the illegal logging trade in the region makes up to 30 to 40 percent of all timber and wood products exported.

Source:  “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page viii.

Wildlife traffickers sell the bladder of the Totoaba fish in China and Hong Kong for up to $200,000.

The fish is listed as an endangered species and is protected under the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species.

The bladder is considered a delicacy in China and is used in fish maw soup. Consumers believe that the bladder helps improve blood circulation, skin complexion, and fertility.

(See additional prices of endangered animals.)

Source:  Associated Press, “7 charged with smuggling bladders of endangered fish to China, elsewhere for use in soup,” Washington Post, April 24, 2013.

An estimated 8 million tons of e-waste is illegally smuggled and dumped in China each year. According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, most of the electrical and electronic waste is dumped in Guangdong Province. The waste is then recycled and sold to the manufacturing industry.

The estimated value of this black market in e-waste in the East Asia region is $3.75 Billion.

Source:  “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page ix.

During a span of five years, over 60,000 animals from 119 different species were estimated to have been smuggled out of Bolivia.

Wildlife protection officials in the country estimate that wildlife trafficking is a multi-million dollar industry in the country.

Source:  Miriam Wells, “Bolivia Seizes Thousands Of Contraband Caimans,” Insight Crime, April 22, 2013.

A survey conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society found that there were at least 33 websites that were selling wildlife and wildlife products in Vietnam. Included in these sites were 7 forums where the animals were discussed and sold, 14 online trading websites, and 11 personal or corporate websites. The survey also found that Facebook was used to facilitate the wildlife trade.

The survey found a total of 108 species were being sold online in Vietnam, with 24 percent of the species being protected under Vietnamese law.

(Click to see price list of endangered animals worldwide.)

Source:  “Vietnam looks to curb web trade in wildlife,” Thanh Nien, April 18, 2013.