Six illegal wildlife smuggling photos that show the grim reality of this crime

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  1. Moscow: A Russian citizen arrived from Indonesia with a suitcase full to the brim with 108 exotic animals. Her luggage contained a silvery gibbon, slow lorises, a marbled cat (pictured), and a variety of reptile species including snakes, lizards, turtles and more. Wildlife trafficking is not just a crime against species poached for products such as ivory, horn or fur. Many species are taken illegally from the wild to be sold into the pet trade and to live a life in cages far from their natural habitat. Most never even survive the journey to their final destination. 

  2. Trinidad and Tobago: Three corrupt police officers were arrested for stealing over one thousand protected animals from Venezuelan wildlife smugglers including this capuchin monkey. This Caribbean destination was one of the first places IFAW conducted trainings to combat illegal wildlife trade and fight corruption with frontline enforcement officers. 

  3. Moscow: Customs officials seized eight rare and endangered gyrfalcons from a passenger who attempted to smuggle them out of Russia in duffle bags. The birds were sent to IFAW's raptor rehabilitation center in Moscow to be cared for until they are strong enough to be returned to the wild. 

  4. India: An IFAW-Wildlife Trust of India team uncovered a trade in dried monitor lizard penises – sold as lucky charms across the world by Indian occult practitioners.To harvest the penises (sold under the guise of a ‘root’ called hatha Jodi) the area around the penis is burned while the lizard is alive forcing it to protrude. It is then excised with a sharp knife and the lizard dies an excruciating death. IFAW- WTI has since initiated an online campaign to stop the use of animal products in faith/occult practices in India. 

  5. Cairo: Security authorities managed to stop a passenger who had attempted to smuggle 41 peregrine falcons into Bahrain. To prevent the birds from opening their eyes and panicking, the smugglers stitched their eyes closed with surgical threads. IFAW has conducted over 45 anti-trafficking trainings with customs, police, and wildlife enforcement officers in North Africa and the Middle East to build their capacity to effectively discover and confiscate smuggled wildlife in the region. 

  6. Vietnam: A dead pangolin floats inside a large jar of tea or another liquid to be consumed as a delicacy. Pangolins have the unfortunate distinction of being the most poached and illegally traded mammal in the world. Over one million pangolins have been poached and trafficked in the last ten years alone. Fortunately, at last year’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), IFAW worked tirelessly with partners to secure protections for all eight species of pangolins and prohibit their international commercial trade. 

IFAW works across the globe training enforcement officers on the ground to better detect and securely handle illegal wildlife trade cases. We also work with online marketplaces to shut down wildlife trafficking sites and prevent traffickers from selling their products to a global audience. We work to educate tourists, travelers, and communities about the negative impacts of illegal wildlife trade on wildlife populations, ecosystem stability, and human safety. Through a holistic approach, IFAW tackles wildlife crime from source to consumer, strengthening enforcement and reducing demand, to ensure a future with wildlife exists.  

--TB

About Tracy Bain

Tracy Bain is a Program Officer for the Wildlife Crime Program based out of the IFAW headquarters office.  She works with the international Wildlife Crime team to develop and support the

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