Crime Stoppers Australia has pledged its support to the United Nation’s World Wildlife Day on 3 March 2022 as part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness of wildlife trafficking and has committed to the development of a national resource to educate Year 7-10 school students about wildlife crime and the illegal trading of Australia’s endangered and rare native animals.
Crime Stoppers Australia Chair, Dr Vince Hughes, said wildlife crime is one of the largest direct threats to many of Australia’s most threatened species, and second only to direct habitat destruction.
“The illegal wildlife trade is big business for organised criminal syndicates, generating revenues of up to AUD $23 billion a year globally, and is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. Illegal wildlife trade in and out of Australia is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” Dr Hughes said.
“Australia’s exotic reptiles, amphibians and birds are highly prized and command big prices on the black market, here and overseas, with the pet trade hungry for our lizards, snakes and bird species such as parrots and cockatoos – and we need to have a united approach with law enforcement and the broader community to make a difference,” he said.
“During transportation, these animals are often bound by tape and packed into small objects for a duration varying between a couple of hours to a few days. By the time they arrive overseas, animals have often suffered dehydration and suffocation with some sadly dying during the journey.”
Bright colours and their exotic nature see Australian snakes and reptiles selling for AUD$1000–$20,000 when illegally trafficked overseas, while native birds such as the rainbow lorikeet and peach-face cockatiel, are also highly valued on the international pet market because of their unusual colourings, behaviours and genetic traits.
Wildlife and environmental crime has taken its place as a mainstay major organised crime activity alongside trafficking in drugs, weapons and human beings.
Dr Hughes also stressed, “While international border closures because of the pandemic temporarily impacted global mail delivery services and have most likely reduced the volume of reptiles exported from Australia, wildlife traffickers seem to have remain undeterred and have been using this downtime to breed and stockpile animals in anticipation of global restrictions easing,” .
Crime Stoppers in Australia is well placed to build on efforts to help protect native fauna. The pledge of support follows highly-successful wildlife trafficking campaigns run in Victoria, and more recently a partnership announced between Crime Stoppers Queensland and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors to offer cash rewards for information that leads to arrests or charges for wildlife crime.
More about World Wildlife Day can be found here.
To help combat the illegal wildlife trade, Crime Stoppers is calling for Australians to:
- Be alert to exotic or native animals being illegally sold, traded, kept, or bred.
- Become informed consumers to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife parts and products; and
- Report suspicious activity relating to online buy-and-sell groups, pet stores, breeders, or online and local markets.
Every Australian can play a role in stopping the cruel business of illegal wildlife trafficking by sharing what they know with Crime Stoppers online.