Wildlife crime is on a massive scale by whatever metric is used. The illegal trade in wildlife and related products is leading to the decline and extinction of many iconic species from rhino to tigers. Almost all countries are signatures to CITES and therefore should enforce national legislation if alleged infringements of trade of wildlife occur. No country is immune from this illegal trade although countries like Australia have their own specific wildlife crimes. Australia is home to many reptilian, amphibian and avian species that are highly prized, predominantly as pets. Collection of protected species from the wild is illegal in all jurisdictions yet policing remote areas of the outback, where so much of the native endemic fauna and flora lives, is nearly impossible. The illegal international trade in these species is highlighted by two case studies provided in this review. A further case highlights the issues of each of the six states of Australia having separate legislation, which is compounded when wildlife crime can be inter-state crime. Australia is one of the few countries having an institute, based at the Australian Museum, with an accredited wildlife forensic science laboratory and therefore the capability to undertake forensic testing of seized samples. One way to reduce wildlife crime may be by educating those who buy illegally seized products that there is a direct connection between the dead animal from which it came and the devasting effect this purchase has on the environment.
- illegal trade
- forensic science