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Combatting wildlife crime must become a global agenda:
“Humanity can no longer stand by in silence while our wildlife are being used, abused and exploited.
It is time we all stand together, to be the voice of the voiceless before it’s too late. Extinction means forever.”
Wildlife crime refers to any activity that negatively impacts the survival of wild animals and plants. Significantly, it comprises all aspects of the supply chain. This includes everything from the harvesting and killing of endangered species of flora and fauna through to their human use and consumption.
Not surprisingly, much of the illegal trafficking in endangered species is related to organized crime. Now, the crime level is so serious that it is destroying the resources, culture and economies of many parts of the world.
If you are interested in learning more about:
A good place to start is with CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Wildlife crime has no ethical or cultural boundaries. As a result, it can be challenging to source and work with investigators in other countries and continents.
By now, we have professional relationships with trustworthy agents as far afield as the Philippines and Kenya to Ecuador and Indonesia. Such networks are salient to the success of complex and sensitive investigations.
Our team and partner agents are constantly taken aback by the negative impacts of wildlife crime. These extend beyond the physical suffering and threat to the natural world.
The structure to support wildlife trafficking involves human slavery, corporate profiteering and the stripping of communities’ natural resources and personal freedoms. More often than not, at the epicentre lies, at best, complicit governments and, at worst, corrupt ones.
The field of investigations and security is by default secretive and uncompromising. So, having the opportunity to work on projects that benefit the environment is, at times, humbling.
Over the last few years, Hong Kong, as with some other jurisdictions, has changed laws and increased jail time for wildlife crime. This includes enhanced sentencing. The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department continues to receive more training in identifying illegally shipped wildlife. Furthermore, certain logistics companies—as a result of media pressure—have also stated that they will not ship endangered species.
The rhino has been hunted to near extinction. It is prized in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as, among other things, a cure for cancer.
This stunning painting is by South African Wildlife Artist Sara Siân who donates a percentage of her earnings to wildlife charities. This work was shortlisted for the David Shepherd Wildlife Fund (DSWF) Wildlife Artist of the Year competition (2021). Sara sells prints of her works.
When we launched Veriton in mid-2014, we had no idea that we would become experts in wildlife crime investigation. Shortly after setting up, an associate introduced us to the Hong Kong office of a worldwide NGO.
The NGO was seeking an investigative team to analyse sellers and shippers within the Hong Kong shark fin trade.
Although new to the field, the Veriton team had logistics experience and contacts in the seafood industry.
In addition, our ex-police investigators were knowledgeable about Triads and Organized Crime in Hong Kong. The territory was a known hub for the illegal trade in endangered species which was, as it still is, a primary source of revenue for many international organized crime syndicates.
Amazingly, the shark fin project phases lasted a year. By the end, we were passionate about the fight against the illegal trafficking of all wildlife.
After all these years, we continue to work on conservation related projects for worldwide NGOs and their donors/ supporters.
Cases have included:
For us, one of the most worrying aspects of the trade in illegal wildlife that has emerged is how no matter the commodity, the majority of trafficking is interlinked. And, at the top, powerful, apparently unstoppable crime syndicates, control it.
Wildlife charities need your support.