This chapter is based on empirical research carried out as part of the EFFACE project (see Sollund and Maher 2015) that details the EU context of wildlife trafficking through an overview of current academic and expert literature and data collection from four qualitative case studies in locations representing source (Brazil and Colombia), transit (UK), and demand (UK and Norway) countries. Along with trade comparisons, the research identified the nature of IWT and responses to it. Case study data was collected by means of interviews with and observations of experts including non-governmental organization (NGO) staff, environmental authorities, and law enforcement agents. Offender interviews (Norway only) and analysis of penal cases, verdicts, and confiscation reports further supplemented this data.
Assuming as a point of departure that animals are sentient beings, are ‘subjects-of-a-life’ (Regan 1983), who, like humans, have interests in living their lives unharmed, we can confidently acknowledge them as the principal victims of trade, legal, or otherwise. There are a large range of animal victim species; seizures in the UK and Norway alone include mammals, reptiles, fish and other sea animals, and birds. Many are live animals destined for the pet trade, especially birds, reptiles, fish, and corals fall into this category. However, the largest seizures are of animal parts and derivatives. Animal parts and derivatives are made into food, health (dried seahorse, leopard, rhino horn, musk deer, tiger [Minnaar 2013]), ornamental (ivory, stuffed crocodile and parts of crocodile, bears, wolves, birds, bird eggs), and fashion (reptile skins, feathers) products.
Victimization of individual animals can also cause secondary victimization to whole species and ecosystems. During the last 40 years, the Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, has identified a 52 per cent population decline in these populations (World Wildlife Fund for Nature [WWF] 2014b). Although habitat loss likely accounts for much of this, hunting and abduction are serious threats (WWF 2014b, p. 21). The scale of biodiversity loss could be as high as
100.000 species becoming extinct every year, which is 1,000-10,000 times the rate of natural extinction (WWF 2014a, 2014b). According to Baille et al. (cited in Rivalan et al. 2007), the IWT threatens a third of the world’s species, including critically endangered species such as the iconic rhinoceros, tiger, and African elephant. CITES (2013b) currently lists approximately 5,600 animal species as threatened.