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.

Since July 2008 until the end of 2011, authorities in Australia seized 71 boats within its waters that were conducting illegal fishing operations. 7 boats were seized in 2011.

Between July 2007 and July 2008, authorities seized 186 boats for illegal activities, with 141 boats being Indonesian-owned boats.

In 2004, around 367 illegal boats were apprehended.

(Additional data about illegal fishing boats.)

Source: Caitlin Howlett, “Fishing without borders,” ABC, “December 13, 2011.

In July of 2011, there were six rhinos reported to have been killed for their horns in Kenya. The number of rhinos killed for the month was the same number as the number killed in all of 2008.

Source: Jessica Hatcher, “Deadly trade: rhino horn poaching surges,” Telegraph, December 10, 2011.

In 2011, the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom identified over 600 active illegal trash dumping sites in England and Wales.

During the 2010-2011 Fiscal Year, the agency conducted over 400 waste-related prosecutions and shut down 1,195 illegal waste dumping sites.

Source: “Waste crime crackdown launched by Environment Agency,” BBC News, December 8, 2011.

6,238 sq km (2,400 sq miles) of rainforest in Brazil was destroyed and lost between August 2010 and July 2011. The area of deforestation was 11 percent lower than the previous year. Government officials claimed that the drop in deforestation was due to tougher enforcement and prevention of illegal logging.

The rate of deforestation was during the 2003 -2004 time period, where 27,700 sq km (10,700 sq miles) was cut down.

Most of the illegal logging activities in Brazil is for cattle farming, timber, and crop farming.

Source: “Brazil Amazon deforestation ‘at lowest level in years’,” BBC News, December 6, 2011.

An estimated 13 million animals are taken from their natural ecosystem and sold within the black market pet trade around the world each year.

(Endangered animals prices list.)

Source: Jim Robbins, “Global Trade Spreads a Fatal Amphibian Disease,” New York Times, Green Blog, November 24, 2011.


Forest Authorities in Greece reported that illegal logging activities across the country accounts for up to 30 percent of all lost forestland that happens each year.

In the Foloi Forest in Western Greece, between 10 to 15 percent of the forest is lost each year due to illegal logging.

Between January and November 2011, authorities received over 100 reports and complaints about illegal logging, compared to 80 in 2010.

Source: “Illegal logging takes bite out of forests,” ekathimerini.com, November 22, 2011.

Between 2000 and 2009, over 50 kilograms of caviar was estimated to have been smuggled out of Bulgaria and Romania, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

(See how much caviar costs on the black market.)

Source: “WWF Report Sounds Warning On Caviar,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 14, 2011.

In 2010, there was 140 percent more bluefin tuna being sold in the market then the amount that was reported being caught, according to the Pew Environmental Group.

The Total Allowable Catch quota for 2010 was set at 13,500 tons of bluefin tuna. The Pew Environment Group estimates that 35,000 tons of tuna were actually caught during the year.

Over a 10 year period, up to $4 Billion worth of bluefin tuna was illegally caught around the world.

(Additional statistics about illegal bluefin tuna fishing.)

Source: Richard Black, “Med Bluefin tuna catch ‘unabated’,” BBC News, October 17, 2011.

341 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in the first 10 months of 2011. In 2010, a total of 333 rhinos were killed. In 2000, 7 rhinos were poached and killed by wildlife smugglers.

(Prices of animals on the illegal wildlife market.)

Source: Tony Carnie, “Rhino toll the worst ever,” IOL News, November 3, 2011.

Oil smuggling on the black market in Kosovo is estimated to be a $100 Million industry.

The oil is produced in an oil refinery in Serbia and sold tax free to ethnic Serbs. They then smuggled it into Kosovo with the help of ethnic Albanians and sell the fuel at makeshift gas stations.

Source: Doreen Carvajal, “In Balkans, Smuggling Forges a Rare Unity,” New York Times, October 24, 2011.