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2024 World Wildlife Crime Report

Published: 14th May, 2024

Context

The rhino and the cedar were the animal and plant species most affected by global illegal wildlife trade during 2015-2021, the 2024 World Wildlife Crime Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Key-Takeaways:

The 2024 World Wildlife Crime Report highlights the significant impact of illegal wildlife trade on animal and plant species:

  • Most Affected Species:
    • Animal: Rhino horn market (29%), pangolin scales (28%), and elephant ivory (15%) are the most affected.
    • Plant: Cedars and Sapindales (47%), rosewoods (35%), and agarwood and myrtales (13%) are the top affected.
  • Diversity Among Seizures:
    • Corals (16%), crocodilians (9%), elephants (6%), and bivalve molluscs (6%) are among the most seized animal species.
    • Coral pieces (16%), live specimens (15%), and medicines from animal products (10%) are the most seized commodities.
  • Despite efforts, wildlife trafficking persists globally, driven by adaptable traffickers.
  • The report calls for strong international cooperation, investment in data capacity, and modernized criminal justice responses.
  • Corruption and technology are identified as areas of concern, undermining regulation and enforcement.
  • Prioritized and strategic interventions are needed to reduce wildlife trafficking, addressing organized crime as a whole.
  • Overall, the report underscores the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to combat wildlife trafficking and protect biodiversity.

Why is India hub for wildlife crimes?

  • Megadiverse Nature and Dense Population: With 8% of the world's wildlife, India serves as both a source and transit country for illegal wildlife and products due to its dense human population.
  • Porous international borders with China, Myanmar, and other Southeast Asian countries facilitate illegal trade.
  • Demand for raw materials (red sandalwood and ivory drives trafficking)
  • Infrastructure and Technology:
    • A growing aviation sector and expanding airport infrastructure provide avenues for smuggling.
    • Social media platforms are exploited by traffickers for online trade.

Initiatives to Combat Wildlife Crimes in India:

  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB): Constituted under the Director, Wildlife Preservation to combat wildlife-related crimes.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Prohibits hunting and illegal wildlife trade.
  • Conservation Projects:
    • Project Elephant addresses human-elephant conflict and protects elephant habitats.
    • Project Tiger conserves endangered tigers and their habitats.
  • Operational Initiatives:
    • Operation “Save Kurma” targets poaching, transportation, and illegal trade of turtles and tortoises.
    • Operation Thunderbird intensifies enforcement with INTERPOL.
    • Operation Wildnet tackles illegal trade on e-commerce platforms.
  • India's participation in CITES regulates international trade in endangered species.
  • International Organizations: World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Investigation Agency, TRAFFIC, and International Fund For Animal Welfare play roles in preventing and controlling wildlife crime.
PYQ

Q1. With reference to Indian laws about wildlife protection, consider the following statements: (2022)

  1. Wild animals are the sole property of the government.
  2. When a wild animal is declared protected, such animal is entitled for equal protection whether it is found in protected areas or outside.
  3. Apprehension of a protected wild animal becoming a danger to human life is sufficient ground for its capture or killing.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 3 only

Solution: (b)

Q2. Consider the following statements in respect of Trade Related Analysis of Fauna and Flora in Commerce (TRAFFIC): (2017)

  1. TRAFFIC is a bureau under United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  2. The mission of TRAFFIC is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Solution: (b)

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