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.

In 2009, authorities in Vietnam seized 7 tons of elephant ivory that was smuggled  into the country from Tanzania. It was the largest seizures of elephant ivory in the country’s history.

(Additional wildlife trafficking statistics.)

Source: Associated Press, “Illegal elephant tusk smuggling uncovered in Vietnam,” New Zealand Herald, October 24, 2011.

Fisherman in the northern Vietnamese province of Lao Cai earned up to $485 (10 Million Vietnamese Dong) a week through an illegal fishing process of using electrical shocks to kill fishes.

Between 2008 and 2011, the fisherman were buying 350-volt transformers for $145 (3 Million Vietnamese Dong) and putting the electrical devices in to the waters to kill fish. The device would send out electrical pulses up to seven meters that would either kill or stun fish.

There are about 200 people who are working in the illegal fishing industry in the province.

(More information about illegal fishing methods and statistics.)

Source: VNS, “Fish wiped out by illegal fishing,” Viet Nam News, October 20, 2011.

Between 2004 and 2011, authorities in the Chinese province of Yunnan investigated 1,500 cases of wildlife smuggling, and arrested 1,107 wildlife trafficking suspects.

The number of cases drastically dropped during the ending of the time period, with only 12 wildlife smuggling investigations in the first 9 months of 2011, half of the 24 cases investigated in 2010.

Source: Zhang Yan, Li Yao and Guo Anfei, “Wildlife smuggling becoming rarer but not extinct,” China Daily, October 20, 2011.

Wildlife traffickers were arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo for attempting to sell a baby gorilla for $40,000.

The price of a gorilla on the black market is higher then the previously reported price of $8,000 in 2007.

(See the price list of endangered animals.)

Source: Miguel Llanos, “Baby gorilla on black market for $40,000 is rescued,” MSNBC, October 11, 2011.

Between 2000 and 2010, over 150 boa constrictor snakes were either stolen, surrender or seized by Customs in Queensland and New South Wales.

In addition, there were incidents where Customs seized 12 Burmese pythons in two parcel boxes that were sent from Sweden, and 29 corn snakes in two parcels boxes from the United Kingdom.

Source: Rosslyn Beeby, “Snakes in the post constricting biodiversity,” Camberra Times, October 11, 2011. 


Organized crime groups in Malaysia are illegally logging agarwood in order to extract gaharu oil. The oil is then sold to in the Middle East for $43 (140 Malaysian Ringgits) for 10 milliliters.

Source: Josephine Jalleh, “Illegal logging for agar wood continues in forest reserve,” Malaysian Star, October 10, 2011.

The Associated Press reported that the estimates for the economic losses from illegal fishing was as high as $23. 5 Billion in 2011, slightly higher then the previous estimate of $23 Billion.

Source: Associated Press, “Seized vessel shines light on illegal fishing,” CBS News, October 8, 2011. 

Between 2007 and August 2011, the South Korean Coast Guard apprehended 1,887 Chinese boats that was illegally fishing in South Korean waters. The boats were fined a total of $23 Million for their illegal fishing, with each boat being fined an average of $25,183 to $50,367.

Source: “Chinese Vessels Fined USs$23 Million For Illegal Fishing – Report,” Bernama, October 4, 2011.

Over 1,000 trees are estimated to be illegally logged each day in the Masoala rainforest in Madagascar.

Back in 2009, illegal logging activities increased by 25 percent.

Source: Associated Press, “Madagascar holds concert against illegal logging,” Google News, September 30, 2011. 

Ecopetrol, Colombia’s largest petroleum company, reported losses of $11 Million due to oil theft and smuggling in 2010. An average of 369 barrels of oil was stolen from the company’s pipes every day in 2010. The amount of stolen oil increased by 95 percent from 2009.

Source: Travis Mannon, “Ecopetrol lost $11M in 2010 through oil theft,” Colombia Reports, September 27, 2011.