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.

The Government of Gabon reported in February 2013 that poachers in the country killed 11,000 elephants between 2004 to 2012.

The elephants are killed for their ivory, which is traded globally on the black market. In 2011, wildlife protection officers seized an estimated 44 tons of illegal ivory worldwide.

Source:  Shannon Van Sant, “Operation Succeeds at Cracking Down on Illegal Wildlife Trade,” Voice of America, February 18, 2013.

A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency found that up to 48 percent of the timber from Mozambique that is exported to China was illegally logged. This activity costs the Government of Mozambique $30 Million in lost tax revenue.

Source:  Pamela Dockins, “Illegal Logging Costs Mozambique, Other Countries,” Voice of America, February 14, 2013.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare stated that it found 796 advertisements for live animals on the Internet during a four week time period. The 11 websites were offering big cats such as cheetahs, cougars, jaguars leopards Siberian tigers and Bengal tigers. The sellers claimed that the cubs are all “home-raised” and “accustomed to children”.

The animals were being sold for $217 (800 UAE Dirham).

(More endangered animals prices here.)

Source:  Collin Simpson, “Illegal wildlife trade is thriving on UAE websites,” National, February 12, 2013.

Wildlife charities believe that between 40,000 to 60,000 pangolins were taken from the wild in Vietnam and sold on the global black market.

Pangolins are considered a delicacy in certain parts of the world, and their scales are claimed to treat many ailments. However, there is no medical science to back up those claims.

(Endangered animals price list.)

Source:  Jeremy Hance, “Pity the pangolin: little-known mammal most common victim of the wildlife trade,” Mongabay.com, February 11, 2013.

Wildlife protection organizations and the South African Government reported that 82 rhinos were killed by poachers in January 2013. In Kruger National Park in South Africa, 61 rhinos were killed. 14 poachers were arrested as well.

In 2012, a record 668 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa.

Source:  Adam Vaughn, “WWF plans to use drones to protect wildlife,” Guardian, February 7, 2013.


A former head of the forest management board in a forest in Vietnam was sentenced to jail for 12 years for allowing loggers to illegally cut down trees and to smuggle the timber out of the forest.

The illegal loggers paid the official $2,300 (48 Million Vietnamese Dong) in bribes when they cut down trees between June 2010 to June 2011.

(Political corruption around the world.)

Source:  “Corrupt forest rangers jailed over illegal logging scheme,” VietNamNet, February 5, 2013.

Between 2010 to 2013, environmental protection officers in Thailand seized over 46,000 animals that were being held by wildlife traffickers, venders and trappers. The number during the two year period is higher than the 18,000 animals that were rescued in the 2008 to 2010 time-period.

(Prices of animals in the illegal wildlife trade.)

Source:  Thomas Fuller, “A Burden of Care Over Seized Exotic Wildlife in Thailand,” New York Times, February 4, 2013.

Between 2008 and 2010, the Environmental Investigation Agency estimates that wood that was illegally cut in Peru accounted for up to 35 percent of the country’s exports of Spanish cedar and big leaf mahogany. Most of the wood that is exported from Peru is used in high-end furniture.

Illegal loggers in Peru can make up to $1,000 for selling a ceder tree on the black market.

Source: Simeon Tegel, “Peru exporting outlawed timber from Amazon to the US,” Global Post, February 2, 2013.

The Government of Tanzania losses up to $220 Million in tax revenue each year due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Source:  ‘Tanzania: State Loses Billions in Illegal Fishing,” AllAfrica, January 30, 2013.

Between 2007 and 2012, prosecutors in the Philippines filed 8 cases of illegal logging activities.

6 of the cases have been dismissed.

Source:  Melvin Gascon, “Is Quirino’s drive on illegal logging worth dying for?,” Inquirer, January 29, 2013.