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.

An investigation by the WWF-Russia reports that half of the Mongolian oak that was cut down in Russia and shipped to China in 2010 was illegally logged. In 2007 and 2008, the illegal timber was four times as large as the legitimate trade.

In 2011, there were a reported 691 cases of illegal logging in Primorsky Province. 16 percent of the cases were brought to trial, the lowest level in 10 years.

Source:  “Russian forests and tigers left floored by illegal logging,” WWF, April 16, 2013.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell said that over 90 percent of oil spills from pipelines and other operations in Nigeria during 2012 were due to acts of sabotage. In its annual sustainability report, the company reported that around 26,000 barrels of oil were spilled in Nigeria.

During 2009 to 2012, Shell estimates that 85 percent oil spills in Nigeria was due to theft and attempted theft.

Source:  Richard Blackden, “Shell demands Nigeria do more to stop rising oil theft,” Telegraph, April 12, 2013.

Over the span of 10 years, up to 75 percent of the reported 1,000 deaths of forest rangers were due to wildlife traffickers killing the rangers. According to the International Ranger Federation, a lack of equipment, training and wages all contributed to the killings of the rangers. The remaining 25 percent of ranger deaths were due to attacks by wild animals.

Source:  AFP, “Ruthless crime gangs driving global wildlife trade,” GlobalPost, March 8, 2013.

Law enforcement agencies in Vietnam investigated nearly 31,400 cases of black market smuggling in 2012. The value of the illicit goods was worth $21 Million (440 Billion Vietnamese Dong).

Between November 2012 to the end of February 2013, authorities arrested 11 pirates from Indonesia, 46 heroin traffickers, confiscated nearly 800 ecstasy pills, 24 kilograms of explosive materials, and nearly 5,800 tons of iron ore from smugglers.

Source:  “Anti-smuggling inspections to increase in border regions,” Vietnam Net Bridge, April 3, 2013.

According to the Chairman and CEO of Petron, an estimated 36 million barrels of oil was smuggled into the Philipines in 2012. Oil industry officials also estimate that up to one-third of the oil sold on the market has been smuggled.

Source:  Gil Cabacungan, “Petron hits oil smuggling,” Inquirer, April 2, 2013.


Around 70 percent of the ivory that is taken from elephants killed in Africa is shipped to China.

As of March 2013, the price of ivory was reported to be worth $1,300 per pound.

Source:  Pete Jones, “Gold and poaching bring murder and misery to Congolese wildlife reserve,” Guardian, March 31, 2013.

In March 2013, diesel smugglers in Pakistan were selling a liter of fuel in $1.06 (104 Pakistani Rupee), less than the official price of $1.14 (112 Rupee). The fuel was smuggled into the black market from Iran.

Traders of the black market diesel estimated between 100 to 130 fuel tankers that each hold between 25,000 to 40,000 liters of fuel are smuggled from Iran to Pakistan or Afghanistan each day.

Source:  Hamdan Albaloshi, “FEATURE-Iran sanctions spur boom for Pakistani diesel smugglers,” Reuters, March 31, 2013.

Wildlife traffickers are able to get up to 30 kilograms of ivory from a single elephant. If the market value of the a kilogram is $300, then the ivory from a single elephant would generate up to $9,000 on the black market.

According to a report in the Guardian, a corrupt wildlife ranger who allows poachers smuggle ivory would receive a cut of around 20 percent, or $2,000 in the example listed above.

In comparison, a ranger in Cambodia was being paid $30 a month in 2013, or $360 a year in salary. In Thailand, a lack of funds for supplies and gear leads to forest rangers conducting training exercises with tree branches. And in Tanzania, if a poacher is caught, he is subjected to a $13 fine.

(More on the effects of corruption.)

Source:  Oliver Milman, “Ranger corruption ‘impeding global fight against poaching’,” Guardian, March 27, 2013.

Italian oil company Eni reported in March 2013 that it was suspending operations in Southern Nigeria due to rampant oil theft and sabotage.

The company was producing up between 35,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil per day in its oil fields in Bayelsa. Bunkering activities were causing losses of up to 60 percent of the oil production.

Source:  AFP, “Italy’s ENI curbs activities in Nigeria due to oil theft,” Google News, March 23, 2013.

In previous years, the buyers of ivory in Egypt were from Spain, Italy and the United States. In 2013, the dynamics of the market shifted to Asia, where buyers from China now account for over 50 percent of the illegal ivory sales in Egypt.

According to criminal justice officials, Cairo is a major wildlife trafficking center due to its geographic location between Africa and Europe. Great apes are smuggled to Cairo and then sent to the Gulf Region, China and Europe in order to meet the  demand. In September 2012, authorities seized 17 endangered falcons at Cairo International Airport, and then seized a live cobra a man was carrying in his carry-on luggage the next month.

Source:  Kira Walker, “Egypt remains a hot spot for illegal chimp and ivory trade,” Egypt Independent, March 24, 2013.