Report: Illicit wildlife trade worth $19 billion

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Associated Press

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 13 at 12:33 AM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund says the illicit trade in wildlife is worth at least $19 billion a year, making it the fourth largest illegal trade in the world after narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

The report, launched Wednesday, said organized criminals view the trade in illegal wildlife as high profit and low risk because governments don't give it a high enough priority and haven't implemented an effective response.

Besides driving many endangered species towards extinction, the report said the illegal wildlife trade strengthens criminal networks, undermines national security, and poses increasing risks to global health.

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig, who hosted the launch, said strong demand and high prices for rhino horn and elephant ivory have spurred poaching, which is an organized crime.

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