The “Wildlife Crimes are Wild Crimes against Life”campaign

The SWiPE LIFE project launches its campaign to draw social and political attention and raise awareness of the true impact of wildlife crimes in Europe.

Wildlife crimes, such as illegal killing, poisoning, trapping or illegal trade of species constitute a major threat to many of the planet’s species. In fact, unsustainable and illegal wildlife trade and other types of wildlife crimes are the second biggest direct threat to species, after habitat loss.  However, the true impact and incidence of these illegal actions are broadly underestimated; such infringements are widely considered minor offences. 

With impressive visuals inspired by crime investigation scenes, the Wild Crimes campaign aims to raise awareness and improve knowledge and understanding of the real impact of wildlife crimes. At the same time, it seeks to draw social and political attention to these serious crimes inspiring action in both experts and society to recommit to our responsibilities to fight against them.

The impact of wildlife crime

In fact,  wildlife crime comprises the fourth largest transnational organized criminal activity worldwide, after arms, drugs and human trafficking. According to the 2014 report by UNEP-INTERPOL, environmental crime is estimated to be worth up to $258 billion a year and frequently links to other serious crimes such as fraud, money laundering and corruption.

A great amount of illegal wildlife is traded from Africa through Europe to Asia, some destined to Europe.  So Europe plays an important role in the fight against this crime. However, wildlife crimes also happen within the EU borders and threaten European species. This is the case for trafficked European species such as sturgeons and eels, but also poached animals, as bears or wolves, and illegally killed and poisoned endangered eagles and scavengers. All of these acts represent serious crimes that must not be tolerated and that can be stopped with joint efforts 

Wildlife crime in figures

  • According to the 2017 BirdLife 2017 report, an estimated 36 million birds are killed illegally every year while migrating in the Mediterranean region, causing a 30% decline in the population of some species and the complete loss of species from some regions.
  • Europol estimates that 100 tonnes of European eel are smuggled from the EU to China each year;
  •  6441 seizure records of protected species were reported through the EU-TWIX instrument in 2019 alone. EU-TWIX is the European Union’s electronic database for combating trafficking of wildlife.

The “Wild Crimes” campaign

The campaign is part of the EU LIFE project SWiPE Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe (SWiPE) and will be disseminated by WWF, Fauna and Flora International and TRAFFIC at a European level under #StopWildlifeCrime

It will contribute to raising the profile of wildlife crime and drawing political attention to the revision process under which is currently the Environmental Crime Directive and the EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking, a key moment and a great opportunity for the future of the fight against wildlife crime in Europe.

Campaign credits: The “Wildlife crimes are wild crimes against life” campaign has been created by Viernes and McNulty.