Illegal wildlife trade linked to terror groups: Natarajan

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said there is evidence that some wildlife crime syndicates are linked to terror groups.

New Delhi: Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Friday said there is evidence that some wildlife crime syndicates are linked to terror groups, as she pushed for "swift and certain" retribution to curb illicit trade of Tiger and other endangered species.

"The existence of illegal wildlife trade undermines efforts made by a country to protect their natural resources. Recent evidence points at, as CBI must be knowing, some of the networks are linked with terror groups," Natarajan said.

Speaking at the valedictory ceremony of the five-day programme on Asian Big Cat Related Crimes oragnised by Interpol and CBI, she said clear definition of culpability is required so that those indulging in destruction of environment and wildlife can be punished.

Swift and certain retribution and punishment for wildlife crimes is essential to effectively counter poaching and killing endangered species, she added.

The Minister said strict penalties coupled with strong and clear extradition agreements between countries are required to prevent illegal wildlife trade.
Corruption, weak judicial system allows the criminal network to exploit wildelife as it is a low risk and high return business for them, she said, adding that internatinal illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be about 10 billion US dollars annually.

"We must not forget that this (illegal wildlife trade) is big business. Wildlife is trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms and therefore by very nature it is difficult to obtain correct figures of value of this trade. It runs into hundreds and millions of dollars," she said.