The EU has already confirmed its leadership in tackling the illegal trade in natural resources by adopting ambitious policies on timber and fishery products. This EU Action Plan demonstrates that the EU is ready to live up to international expectations and commitments, and that it is raising the level of its ambition as regards action against the illegal trade in wildlife. The bloc will also help to ensure that the significant investments made over the last decades through EU development support for wildlife conservation worldwide will not be undermined through criminal activities.
Wildlife trafficking has a devastating impact on biodiversity, threatening to eradicate some species. Moreover, it both creates incentives for corrupt practices and is enabled by them, thereby undermining the rule of law. Notably in some regions in Africa, it has a very negative impact on the potential for economic development.
Wildlife trafficking is very attractive to criminals, as it is highly lucrative and, in most countries it has lower enforcement priority by comparison with other forms of trafficking, so the risk of detection and penalties is very limited. Links with money laundering and other forms of organised crime, such as trafficking in drugs and firearms, have been regularly reported . The UN Security Council has acknowledged that wildlife trafficking in Central Africa is fuelling conflicts and threatening regional and national security by providing a source of funding to militia groups.