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.

Poaching and illegal killing for sport, predators or pest control and retaliation,  trapping, harming 

Hunting is a legal activity where individual hunters with the relevant permits (e.g., for hunting and arms possession) are allowed to shoot game (or hunting) species during authorized seasons and in designated areas. Therefore, hunting can be monitored and regulated throughout the whole supply chain. Poaching, however, is an illegal activity which can seriously affect the conservation status of protected species – it includes: 

  • killing or trapping protected species without permits; 
  • killing or trapping with illegal weapons (e.g. weapons of military use) and equipment (e.g. night vision in some countries); 
  • use of unselective and cruel, lethal traps that do not follow the rules and regulations of the EU (Humane trapping standards for certain animal species) or the country; 
  • using illegal substances (e.g. poison) in order to kill wildlife.