Let’s look at wildlife crimes

This is about killing and trafficking for profit of our biodiversity by criminal syndicates. This is about crimes that are actually not isolated from other crimes, including corruption, drug dealing and human trafficking. How do we prosecute them? And is there a direct link with international crimes? Olivia Swaak-Goldman, executive director of the Wildlife Justice Commission, is the guest of our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts. Her organization is tackling transnational organised wildlife crime. And it is based in The Hague, the capital of international justice, because it’s about peace and security, and it’s about accountability.

The Skin of a Sumatran tiger is seen in a plastic bag after the arrest of a trafficker in Bandah Aceh. Where wildlife crime is particularly common.Animal trafficking is a widespread practice in Southeast Asia. Like here in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the arrest of a trafficker trying to sell the skin of the Sumatran tiger, a critically endangered species. Animal trafficking is a widespread practice in Southeast Asia. Like here in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the arrest of a trafficker trying to sell the skin of the Sumatran tiger, a critically endangered species. © Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP
1 min 15Approximate reading time

To listen to the podcast, click on the "play" button below:

It’s happening under the radar, worth an estimated 1 to 2 trillion dollars a year, and decimating biodiversity, but organised wildlife crime is still underinvestigated. To help us understand how these transnational criminal networks operate, and their similarities and differences with our usual war criminals and genocidaires, we invited Olivia Swaak Goldman of the Wildlife Justice Commission

Olivia talks us through the convergence between wildlife crimes and other types of criminal activities, such as drug smuggling and people trafficking. To read more about those linkages read the 2021 Wildlife Justice Commission report. She also explains how governments’ lack of attention to wildlife smuggling makes it one of the safest and most profitable criminal activities for career criminals. 

Recorded on August 19, World Orangutan Day, we also asked Olivia about how the Commission has changed from its early years of naming and shaming in public events designed to put pressure on governments, to instead working with local authorities, using high-quality intelligence and building capacity in investigative skills, which has led to arrests like the Navarra one in Mozambique.  

Asymmetrical Haircuts podcastASYMMETRICAL HAIRCUTS

This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between JusticeInfo.net and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.