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.

According to a study released in March 2013, an estimated 100 Million sharks are being killed each year.

Researchers attribute the biggest driver of shark fishing to the demand for shark fin soup. The soup is considered a luxury in China.

Source:  Matt McGrath, “Shark kills number 100 million annually, research says,” BBC News, March 1, 2013.

According to a report in the New York Times, a pound of ivory is selling for $1,300 in China as of March 2013.

The value of the ivory is higher than the $900 per pound reported in October 2012. In 2011, a pound of ivory was selling for $270.

(More illegal wildlife trade prices.)

Source:  Dan Levin, “From Elephants’ Mouths, an Illicit Trail to China,” New York Times, March 1, 2013.

Environmental protection agencies and wildlife charities estimate that up to 350 million specimens are illegal bought and sold on the black market each year.

The entire illicit trade in wildlife trafficking is estimated to be worth $19 Billion.

Source:  Damian Carrington, “People and animals at immediate risk from wildlife crime, Cites chief warns,” Guardian, March 1, 2013.

According to statistics collected by the Cheetah Conservation Fund, 104 cheetahs were killed in 2012 due to trafficking activities in the illegal pet trade.

Smugglers who attempt to sell cheetahs lack the proper equipment and training to safely move the animals, thus leading to 5 out of 6 cheetahs dying while in transit.

Source:  Laurie Marker, “Ending the Illegal Pet Trade in Cheetahs,” Huffington Post, March 1, 2013.

According to a campaigner from Greenpeace, illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean causes the region to lose up to $2 Billion (2 Billion Australian Dollars) every year.

Up to one-third of the fishing activities that take place in the Pacific Ocean is believed to be either illegal or unregulated.

Source:  “Interpol moves to halt illegal fishing in Pacific,” Radio Australia, February 28, 2013.


Wildlife protection officers and police around the world seized 5,259 raw ivory tusks during 13 raids, according to information from the WWF and wildlife monitoring organization Traffic.

The WWF estimates that up to 30,000 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa each year in order to supply the ivory market.

Source:  “Yingluck to ‘consider’ ivory trade ban,” Bangkok Post, February 27, 2013.

An estimated $20 Billion a year is lost in tax revenue in the Philippines due to black market smuggling.

Commodities such as petroleum, rice and fertilizer are among the items that avoid taxes.

Source:  Cai Ordinario, “‘PH loses $20-B to smuggling each year’,” Rappler, February 26, 2013.

Between January and February 2013, police in Nepal broke up a smuggling ring where they recovered 1,580 kilograms of Tibetan Antelope Wools. Police and wildlife officials estimate that at least 10,000 endangered Tibetan Antelopes were killed in order to produce that much wool.

Source:  “Nepal busts wild animal parts smuggling racket,” Gulf Times, February 22, 2013.

The Government of Nigeria estimates that it is losing up to $6 Billion a year to oil theft and oil smuggling on the black market. The Nigerian Government wants international help in cracking down on the money laundering of stolen proceeds.

Oil industry companies such as Shell state that thieves are also sabotaging pipelines to steal oil.

Source:  AFP, “Nigeria wants world’s help to slow massive oil theft,” Google News, February 19, 2013.

Count police in West Texas estimate that oil drillers in the area are losing equipment worth $20 Million a year to theft.

Thieves steal drilling equipment and other items in order to resell the goods on the black market. Some of the equipment are brought over the border and sold in Mexico.

Source:  Dave Fehling, “Fraud in the Oil Fields: A Boom in Theft Costs Texas Industry Millions,” StateImpact, February 18, 2013.