Illegal Trading in Endangered Animal and Plant Species from an Austrian Perspective
Illegal trading in protected animal and plant specimens as well as their products is an important part of organized crime. It is estimated to rank number four in the trading of illegal goods, after drugs, counterfeit products and human trafficking. Austrian statistics on confiscations of contraband between 2011 and 2017 were used in this study in an attempt to estimate the extent of trading of products from protected species. In addition, the seized goods were categorized to get an impression of the possible motivation of the customers.
The controls used for this study were carried out mainly in international air travel and postal transport. The largest confiscations were therefore assigned in the categories “souvenirs” and “para-medical products/cosmetics”. As Austria is situated within the EC, most border controls have become obsolete. Thus, larger illegal transports are discovered either by chance or as part of multinational initiatives. A significant reduction in demand for products of protected animals and plants might be achievable by changes in consumer orientation, e.g. using new media. However, increased controls remain indispensable.
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