The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. Wildlife trade is a big business, run by international criminal networks, trafficking wildlife and animal parts much like illegal drugs and arms. By its very nature, it is almost impossible to obtain reliable figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade, but experts at estimate that it runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.
The baseline data on legal wildlife trade is collected by the 183 Parties of CITES and submitted annually, which is compiled and maintained in the CITES trade database. CITES Parties will also begin the submission of annual illegal trade reports from 2017.
Data on illegal trade (seizures) is currently compiled by UNODC in World WISE, a new data platform that contains seizures related to wildlife crime, including illegal logging, from 120 countries.