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Empty Forests – How politics, economics and corruption fuel live great ape trafficking

By Jaqueline B. Ramos*

In April, Daniel Stiles, an independent wildlife trade researcher for over 20 years, released a report by the Global Initiative organization warning about the problem of great apes trafficking in Africa. A sad already known reality, but that, unfortunately, seems to be no closer to being solved.

In the midst of increasing numbers of rescues, in many cases of baby apes, which end up overcrowding African sanctuaries, there is an increasing demand for wild animals as pets, entertainment products and exhibits in zoos, especially in the Middle East and Asia. All made possible by a strong business network on the Internet, in recent years leveraged by the power and “immunity” of social media channels.

Together with the destruction of habitats, the result generated is the decline in geometric progression of populations in the wild. Stiles and other experts experienced in this dynamic of international traffic of great apes affirm, with assured certainty, that the main cause of such impunity is the corruption that contaminates the backstage of authorities and institutions that should be inspecting and preventing illegal trade. 

Stiles also points out that organizations that should be strategic in their role of ensuring the protection of species, such as CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the highest authority that regulates the import and export of fauna and flora, and GRASP – United Nations Great Primates Survival Alliance, fails in their mission.

“Influential transnational criminal organizations can corrupt government and national institutions, which feeds back into the international system,” highlights a section of the report with a diagram on the international and national components involved in the political economy of the illegal great ape trade.

Read an article about the report at National Geographic – https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/wildlife-watch-baby-great-apes-kidnap-africa

For the full report go in PDF – https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Daniel-Styles-Empty-Forests-live-great-ape-trafficking.April2023.pdf

*Writen originally to GAP Project Brazil/International Website – https://www.projetogap.org.br/en/noticia/empty-forests-how-politics-economics-and-corruption-fuel-live-great-ape-trafficking/

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