The demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn as well as for other exotic species, driven by China, Japan, the Philippines, the United States, and other countries, has created a massive international, largely illegal market that is having detrimental economic, social and environmental effects. Approximately 35,000 elephants are killed annually, close to 100 elephants every day. At this rate, elephants will be extinct in a few decades.
Poaching is now a sophisticated international crime racket and a national security threat. Wildlife trafficking, both legal and illegal, has recently gained more attention because of the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 and Zika virus.
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African forest elephants have declined by 86% in 31 years, and savannah elephants have declined by 60%.
Illegal wildlife trade is worth $7-23 billion per year and ranks only behind narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking in international criminal activities.
The U.S. is the world’s largest importer of wildlife by far; many populations of species are harmed or endangered by wildlife trade.