Wildlife crime: describing the phenomenon

There are various definitions of “wildlife crime”. For example, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines it as "harvesting and trade contrary to national [and international] laws”. Wildlife crimes can be categorized differently, for instance, based on the motivations of the crime, the species targeted, and the methods used. National regulations may use a combination of these categorizations when describing these offences. This overview page provides a non-exhaustive list of wildlife crimes and some of the wildlife crime categorizations in use, which follow the scope of the SWiPE project. Due to this, there are some overlaps between the phenomena described by these categories.

Illegal catching

Illegal catching refers to all illegal forms of deliberate capture of protected species with the intention of temporarily, or permanently keeping the captured specimens in captivity. This activity may lead to an immediate, direct (quantitative) decline in a population, or could have other more indirect (qualitative) negative effects.

The animals are caught, for example, for selling as pets or meat (fish). Many wild animals are kept captive in private homes as pets including nationally or internationally protected species, such as lions, tigers, servals, wolves, bears, alligators, snakes, venomous spiders and primates like chimpanzees.

Deliberate capture of protected species can be legal if it is subject to an exception from law provisions endorsed by authorities and with special permits for precise purposes such as research and relocation, among other things.