It includes everything from the slaughter of elephants for their ivory, to the sale of great apes and exotic birds as pets, to caviar, decorative tiger pelts, and rhinoceros horns used for carvings and traditional medicines.
Worse, it is driven by some of our basest impulses: the desire for status symbols and trophies. Sadly, the prices for animal items are skyrocketing: ivory costs up to $1,000 per pound. Rhino horn is more valuable than gold or platinum. Pangolins (a small nocturnal, scaled anteater) can fetch $1,000 each. Huge profits, combined with soft penalties for lawbreakers and lax enforcement, have created a perfect situation for organized crime to move in.
Criminal Nature – the dangerous links between poaching and organized crime By: Beth Allgood, IFAW June 24, 2013