The illegal wildlife trade is one of the largest criminal enterprises on the planet.
In fact, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranks wildlife trafficking alongside the drug trade, arms dealing, and human trafficking in terms of illicit profits. A new report by the US Government Accountability Office estimates that the illegal wildlife trade "is worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion annually — and is pushing some animals to the brink of extinction.“
Animals are sold as pets, consumed as delicacies, and used to create traditional medicines all around the globe.
Scroll through these photos for an inside look at animals that have been rescued.
Criminal elements engaged in the wildlife trade range from terrorist groups to rogue security forces, but the main driving force behind the trade is transnational organized crime.
That makes trafficking in animals one of the biggest sources of funding for organized crime.
Pangolins like this newborn here are scaly mammals that many think are on their way to extinction because of trafficking. They’re considered delicacies and their scales and blood are used in Chinese medicine.