Illegal wildlife trade worth $19 bn a year

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 14:00 hrs

London, Dec 12 (IANS) Trafficking of wildlife products is one of the world's biggest illegal trades worth 12 billion pounds ($19 billion) a year, conservationists have warned.

Species such as rhinos, elephants and tigers are being poached in Africa and Asia, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.

Exhibits of rhino heads at British museums have also been targeted by thieves as criminals seek to cash in on demand for rhino horn as a cancer medicine or "hangover cure" in Asia, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Across the world, illegal trade in wildlife including timber and unregulated and unreported fishing has become a lucrative business for criminal syndicates, with profits that can be used to finance civil conflicts and terrorism, a report for WWF found.

It is also pushing some species to the brink of extinction, hitting local communities in some of the poorest parts of the world and raising the threat of spreading infectious diseases.

The internet is also making it easier for criminals to trade in illegal products around the world, the research by Dalberg Global Development Advisors warned.

The report warned that species with high value to illegal traders had seen dramatic declines in recent years.

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