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 report by TRAFFIC, “Worldwide, the number of ivory seizures averages 92 cases a month – or three per day.”

Source: WWF, “Organized crime fuels illegal ivory surege in Africa,” Press Release, May 10, 2007(accessed: May 11, 2007).


Between 1970 and 2005, the number of hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic Ocean fell by 98 percent due to fisherman killing the shark for its fins.

Source: Mark Henderson, “Taste for fins puts shark on danger list,” Times (UK), February 18, 2008.

Due to poaching, there are an estimated 3,500 tigers left in Asia. Back in 1997, 5,000 tigers were in the wild.

Source: Ashok Sharma, Associated Press, “India to spend $13.5M to protect tigers,” Yahoo News, March 1, 2008.

An Iraqi Parliamentary Committee stated that the country faces $5 Billion in losses to oil smuggling.

Source: Sam Dagher, “Basra strike against Shiite militias also about oil,” Christian Science Monitor, April 9, 2008.

Wildlife protection groups have reported that various wildlife are being taken from Indonesia and sold on the international black market. According to ProFauna, a baby orangutan for sale on the black market can cost up to $45,000.

In addition to orangutans, other animals taken from Indonesia and available for sale to buyers are tigers, sun bears, parrots and cockatoos. The animals are either bought to be kept as pets, or are killed for their meat. In order to get to the baby animals, poachers often are forced to kill the mother to separate the baby.

In order to bring baby orangutans for sale on the black market, traffickers inject tranquilizing drugs into the baby. The baby orangutan is then stuffed into a small cardboard box and disguised as clothing. Due to this method of smuggling, many baby orangutans die during transport.

(See more exotic animals for sale by wildlife traffickers.)

Source: Diana Wright, “Domestic black market for endangered wildlife thrives in Indonesia,” Mongabay.com, September 18, 2005.


The illegal trade in caviar is estimated to be worth $495 Million (250 Million pounds) per year.

Source:  “Crackdown on the caviar smugglers,” Independent, March 23, 2008.

Gas smuggling causes the Bolivian Government to lose $55 Million a year.

Source: Andres Schipani, “Smuggling drains Bolivia of oil riches,” BBC News, March 21, 2008.

According to wildlife officials in the United States, komodo dragons are being sold on the black market by wildlife traffickers.

In a report by CBS News, when smugglers offer a komodo dragon for sale  the price to buy the animal is reported to be $30,000.  Buyers can also purchase a Madagascar tortoises for $30,000 as well.

US Fish and Wildlife Inspectors state that 9 out of 10 exotic animals that are taken to be sold and trafficked die during transit.

(Additional prices of exotic wildlife animals.)

Source: David Hanckock, “Contraband Creatures,” CBS Evening News, January 24, 2002.

In 2008 at least one-third of fuel from Iraq’s largest refinery is being diverted to the black market.  The proceeds from the sale were being used to support in insurgency against American troops.

Source: Richard A. Oppel, Jr., “Iraq’s Insurgency Runs on Stolen Oil Profits,” New York Times, March 16, 2008.

Environmental experts estimate that between 26 to 73 million shark fins are sold in Hong Kong each year.

Source: Mark Henderson, “Taste for fins puts shark on danger list,” Times, February 18, 2008.