Nearly half of all the natural World Heritage sites on the planet are being ravaged by poachers who are driving some endangered animals towards extinction, according to a new report.
The illegal wildlife trade was estimated to be worth some £15bn, making it the fourth largest international criminal trade after drugs, guns and human trafficking, according to the ‘Not For Sale’ report.
Illicit logging and fishing are also occurring on an epic scale.
The illegal felling of trees – a trade valued at between $30bn and $100bn (about £24bn-£80bn) a year – was estimated to account for up to 90 per cent of deforestation in major tropical countries.
Fish piracy, blamed by some in countries like Somalia for pushing people into actual piracy, was found to occur in 18 out of 39 marine heritage sites with protected species of sharks and rays among those being caught.
The report, commissioned by conservation group WWF, warned that species listed on the landmark Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), adopted in 1975, were being killed in supposedly protected World Heritage sites.
“Between 1970 and 2012, global wildlife populations declined by almost 60 per cent on average, and illegal harvesting of species was one of the main drivers for this decline,” authors wrote.
“World Heritage sites now function as the last bastion for many critically endangered species, and unless protected within World Heritage sites, these species will go extinct.
Source/More: The Independent