The U N General Assembly has recently changed its stance on how it urges its members to adopt laws making wildlife crimes offences that can trigger money laundering activities to be seized. Wildlife crime is one of the most profitable organised crimes, ranked alongside drugs trafficking, arms dealing, counterfeit goods and human trafficking. One such example was the conviction of a Thai man trafficking Rhinoceros horns through a bizarre scheme that involved prostitutes posing as trophy hunters. This South African operation was followed by investigators that eventually led to them winning a court order last year to seize assets from Chumlong Lemtongthai’s coffers, including a house worth USD$142,000.

In 2014 PoachingFacts, a self-proclaimed fact finding conservation group with a web presence stated that the “retail price of a whole rhino horn is commonly pegged at around $60,000 per kilogram, with some reports of as much as $100,000 per kilogram being charged” (PoachingFacts, 2017). Amidst the media uproar surrounding the lucrative trade in rhino horn, there are few challengers to the notion that those involved in the rhino horn trade are poaching kingpins. These are said to be part of “ruthlessly efficient, imaginative [and] endlessly adaptive” transnational criminal organisations; ones which “are making so much money that they literally don’t know what to do with it”.

This goes hand in hand with the assumption that wildlife crime and organised crime are one and the same, primarily off the law enforcement and policy makers dealing with the matter. However, this rhetoric does not highlight the fact that organised crime is not the only cause of illicit wildlife trade. More often than not, it is the cause of “enterprising” and unscrupulous locals who take advantage of new trends and markets which support networks embracing both the legitimate and illicit business options.

Which seems to be more of a commonality here in South East Asia.

 

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