Wildlife crimes are a common and pressing challenge in the United States and around the world. The illegal wildlife trade is a business worth multibillion dollars. Activities involved include illegal harvesting and trading in live or parts of animals that have been killed. Some of the involved products from animals include leather products, skins, or souvenirs. Animals are also a source of food and alternative medicine. Some people trade animals for use as pets illegally. Affected animals are either killed or extracted from their natural habitat or reared under uncontrolled conditions (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, n.d.). Although various types of wildlife crimes exist in the United States, illegal trade of products from rare and endangered species significantly impacts society and the ecosystem.
The United States military bases are flooded with products from rare and endangered species worldwide, especially in countries such as Afghanistan, where people, including military personnel, take advantage of the instability to conduct the illegal trade. The challenge for the United States is that the illicit activities pave the way for other criminal undertakings, such as human, drug, and arms trafficking, in the attempt to acquire animal products in the American and other markets. The unlawful animal products and other items, such as ammunition, are promoted in the black market. As a multibillion-dollar business, items made from animal parts, such as ivory, are valuable in such markets. Therefore, the demand for items, such as jewelry and carpets from animal parts, has led to a need for more supplies.
The crime is selected as the most important in the United States because of its contribution to other illegal businesses in the country and internationally. For example, the business has corrupted military personnel working in areas with access to animals, including the rare and endangered species. Besides, the illegal trade has worsened other types of crime, such as arms and drug trafficking, to allow animal products to move across national borders illegally (Caught in the Crosshairs, 2014). Therefore, the wildlife crime involving the harvesting of parts from endangered and rare species is severe because of the danger it poses to animals, such as extinction, and its association with other international crimes. For instance, in Afghanistan, snow leopard and other animals have been killed for fur products smuggling into the country.
I believe that law enforcement in the country should use resources, albeit limited, to address this crime. While it might appear that a crime against humanity is worse than wildlife crimes, the latter is as significant because of the relationship between various species in the ecosystem. The need for the use of law enforcement resources emanates from the fact that wildlife crime is linked to other criminal activities, such as human, drug, and arms trafficking. Therefore, addressing wildlife crime might play a critical role in reducing the rate of other crimes (Swanson, Chamelin, Territo, & Taylor, 2018). Secondly, the ecosystem requires wildlife to balance. Therefore, killing the rare and endangered species threatens the ecosystem’s equilibrium.
As the discussion shows, wildlife crimes are as bad as people-related crimes because of their effect on society. Killing and poaching animals for economic gains should be addressed through international and national law enforcement resources. Legal mechanisms against everyone involved in the crime, including military personnel, are necessary aspects to stop wildlife crime and other related illegal activities.
Caught in the crosshairs: Combating the illegal wildlife trade in Iraq & Afghanistan. (2011, December 21). Wildlife Conservation Society. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zipNe0rnu3E
Swanson, C.R., Chamelin, N.C., Territo, L., & Taylor, R.W. (2018). Advanced criminal investigation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (n.d.). What is wildlife trafficking? Retrieved from https://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/illegal-wildlife-trade.html