Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations. Well-armed, well-equipped, and well-organized networks of criminals, insurgent elements, and corrupt officials exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in poached wildlife.
Record high demand for illegally traded wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions, has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years. That trade is decimating iconic animal populations. Today, because of the actions of poachers, species such as elephants and rhinoceroses face the risk of significant decline or even extinction.
Over the past five years, tens of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered by poachers and criminal networks in Africa. In 2013, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone, and the pace of killing is on track to surpass this record in 2014. Urgent action is needed now and the United States is providing leadership and commitment to protecting our world heritage and endangered wildlife.